The Foundation for Constitutional Democracy

30-Apr-2001

Demagoguery

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By Prof. Paul Eidelberg

A great deal of demagogic nonsense has been uttered by Israeli politicians
about “theocracy,” the alleged objective of Torah-oriented Jews. One
inexcusable demagogue is Knesset Speaker Avraham Burg-inexcusable because he
is supposed to be a religious Jew and should know better.

At a Knesset conference on the topic of a constitution, Burg repeatedly
spoke scornfully of “theocracy,” as opposed to “democracy,” to which he
unfailingly genuflects. His target, of course, was the Haredi parties
which, he would have us believe want to establish a “theocracy.” Burg knows
very well that insofar as “theocracy” signifies a regime ruled by a church
or by priests, Judaism is not theocratic. He knows there is no church in
Judaism, neither THEOLOGICALLY, since there is no mediation between G-d and
the individual Jew, nor INSTITUTIONALLY, since there is no ecclesiastical
hierarchy.

Of course, if the word “theocracy” is construed literally as the “rule of
G-d,” then Judaism may be deemed theocratic, for G-d is the ultimate source
of law and authority. But what does this mean OPERATIONALLY? In Judaism no
priesthood BUT ONLY PUBLICLY TESTED SCHOLARSHIP CAN LAY CLAIM TO ANY
VALIDITY REGARDING THE LAWS OF THE TORAH. This means that the Torah
belongs to every Jew, whether he is a Kohane, Levite, or Israelite.

Here let us refer to the illustrious Torah philosopher Rabbi Samson Raphael
Hirsch. In his monumental commentary on the Torah, Hirsch writes: “The
Jewish priest, even the High priest, AS SUCH, has no authority whatsoever.
Interpretation of the Law, of the Torah, is not his high-priestly
attribute.” His authority extends only to Temple services. “The Jewish
high priest stands with relation to the Law of God on exactly the same plane
as the lowest hewer of wood.”

It needs to be emphasized that hierarchy is foreign to Judaism-which is not
to equate Judaism, as does Speaker Burg, with the leveling of contemporary
democracy, which obliterates all moral and intellectual distinctions.

Returning to Hirsch: “Nowhere in the course of the thousands of years of
Jewish history do we find that the authority of the priests as such had any
important influence on the shaping of the community. In the overwhelming
majority of the cases, the men who influenced Jewish national life as
teachers and leaders were non-priests, and those amongst them who were
priests, owed the influence they exerted, not to their priestly position but
to their personal qualities which would have swayed the nation in any case,
even if they did not belong to the tribe of Aaron.”

Contrast Israel’s Supreme Court, whose High Priest is Chief Justice Aaron
Barak. The Court, which is a self-perpetuating oligarchy, renders countless
decisions affecting the social, economic, religious and political affairs of
the nation. Judge Barak, who deems himself wiser that King Solomon, has
made it unlawful to spank one’s children. As a consequence, some two-thirds
of the parents in Israel may be considered “criminals”!

The power of Jewish priests is NOTHING compared to the power wielded by
Israel’s Supreme Court. WITHOUT LEGISLATIVE AUTHORITY OR JUDICIAL
PRECEDENT, the Court (1) ruled that the Chief Rabbinate does not have final
jurisdiction over conversions; (2) ordered the Minister of Interior to
register Reform conversions; (3) ruled that kibbutz shopping centers may
remain open to the public on the Sabbath; (4) declared “illegal” the Defense
Ministry’s policy of exempting yeshiva students from military service (yet
blanket exemptions from any form of national service has remained “legal”
for Arab citizens); (5) ordered the return of a girl to a secular school
after her father withdrew her; (6) awarded four Jewish children to their
Moslem father instead of their mother (who had returned to Judaism); (7)
overruled the Education Minister’s decision to delay the screening of a
program on homosexual youth.

Although the Supreme Court will not deny that Israel is, or is supposed to
be, a Jewish as well as democratic state, it exalts DEMOCRATIC rights in
almost total disregard of JEWISH rights, ignoring, therefore, the
convictions and customs of a large majority of Israel’s Jewish population.

One cannot, however, accuse judge Barak of demagoguery. He scorns the
people and represents, as he himself has boasted, the “enlightened” members
of the community. By this he means Israel’s ultra-secular illuminati, the
same illuminati responsible for Oslo! Include among them Speaker Burg,
notwithstanding his knitted kippa.