The Foundation for Constitutional Democracy


Why Rabbis Should Not Enter Politics

Filed under: JudaismParty Structures — eidelberg @ 5:47 am

Rabbis should not run for political office. Why not? Because politics is dirty, and rabbis can’t wade in dirty water without getting dirty and undermining respect for the Torah.

Besides, few rabbis, today, are qualified to conduct affairs of state. Hardly any have engaged in serious and sustained study of classical and modern political science, which is to say the great works of statesmanship.

Of course, this is also true of the laity, but when the latter’s intellectual and moral shortcomings become manifest—a common occurrence—this does not sully Judaism like the failings of rabbis.

I see no evidence that rabbis holding public office have elevated the quality of Israeli politics. Indeed, I dare say they degrade and even endanger Israel no less than their secular counterparts. A few examples will prove this contention.

First, I will extract and paraphrase some passages from Attorney Howard Grief’s November 12, 1998 article “Why Israel Needs an Independent Counsel” (a proposal initiated by the present writer).

Mr. Grief made an exhaustive study of an improper relationship which existed between the Labor and Shas parties between 1988 and 1996. On January 11, 1993 a special Report of the State Comptroller was published which detailed a cozy relationship between Shas and Labor based on illegal payments made in violation of the criminal laws and the Party Financing Law.

The Report stated that a deal was made between the two parties on October 6, 1989 under which Shas agreed to back Labor in the Histadrut elections of that year in return for monthly consecutive payments of 110,000 NIS (about $55,000 in U.S. funds at the time) which were spread out over a three-year period lasting significantly until the end of 1992, six months after the June 23rd national elections.

It was therefore not surprising that the Shas Party agreed to join the Labor-Meretz Coalition Government in 1992 which helped to initiate the illegal Oslo peace process and at the same time brought Shas financial rewards and political honors.

This was done despite Shas’s promise to its voters to not join a Labor Government and despite the fact that Shas voters belonged largely to the nationalist side of the political spectrum whose beliefs were opposed to the radical leftist Labor-Meretz coalition. By joining that coalition, Shas enabled the government to conclude the September 1993 Oslo Agreement, hence, must also be held responsible for the consequences of that agreement: some ten thousand Jewish casualties, the loss of Jewish land, and the degradation of the Jewish people.

Alas, the National Religious Party is also culpable. By signing the Sharon coalition government agreement of 2003, which bound the signatories to Oslo, it propped up that government and enabled it to prepare the logistics leading to “unilateral disengagement” from Gaza and the expulsion of its 8,000 Jewish residents.

This monstrous crime could not have been perpetrated, however, had it not been for United Torah Judaism. Promised 290 million shekels, UTJ joined the 2004 Sharon coalition government, which, in 2005, implemented the withdrawal/expulsion from Gaza.

Finally, even now, despite the debacle in Gaza, the ascendancy of Hamas, the fiasco of the Second Lebanon War, the on-going bombing of Sderot, and the government’s readiness to withdraw from most of Judea and Samaria and thereby devastate the lives of more than 100,000 Jews, the religious Shas party remains in that government—a perfidious ship of fools that degrades Jews and Judaism.

I mean no disrespect to rabbis who preserve the heritage of the Jewish people. There was a time when rabbis were advisers to kings. But we live in an age of democracy, where all men are equal, and which places rabbis, who enter politics, on the same level as fools and scoundrels.