Dear Chief Rabbi, your sermon on Palestinian violence failed tests of moral and communal leadership

Middle East
on 54 Comments

My open letter to Britain’s Chief Rabbi, Ephraim Mirvis
Dear Chief Rabbi Mirvis

I’ve just listened to the recording of your sermon at Hendon synagogue in London last Sunday night (18 Oct) at a prayer gathering to remember Israeli Jews killed by Palestinians in recent weeks.

The key sentiments you expressed in your talk were commendable. There is indeed “an urgent need for communication” and “the healing of relationships”.

But if that’s what you really believe then the rest of your sermon was an object lesson in how not to achieve either “communication” or “healing”.

Before I go any further, let me put on record my condemnation of these attacks. Others may disagree, but I don’t see Israeli civilians, including Settlers on the West Bank, as legitimate targets for murder or injury in the name of Palestinian resistance.

Your words though did not take us an inch further forward in dealing with a terrible situation.

You began your sermon with an ill-chosen comparison that does your reputation as a teacher of religious ethics no favours at all. You said yourself that “no two terrors are the same” and then proved your own point by recalling the horrific murder of British fusilier, Lee Rigby, on the streets of South London in May 2013.

You reminded your listeners of the sympathy the British public and the media felt towards Lee’s family and our collective horror at the nature of his murder (an attempted beheading) by two Jihadists both born and raised in Britain. You then asked us to imagine such attacks happening up and down Britain for days on end.

This is how you framed what is happening in Israel right now.

Rabbi Mirvis, are you seriously presenting the attacks on Israelis as no more than a series of Islamist outrages? Is that as far as your analysis can go?

The Lee Rigby comparison provided your listeners in the synagogue with a gross distortion of the situation in Israel and I find it hard to believe that your grasp of the relevant context is so poor.

You also displayed a stunning lack of curiosity about a phenomenon that has not been seen before in Israel.

Palestinian resistance is nothing new. That’s hardly surprising after nearly 50 years of Occupation in the West Bank, nearly ten years of the air, sea and land blockade of Gaza and the structural and cultural factors that make 20% of Israel’s population second class citizens.

It’s odd then that you had nothing to say about any of this in a sermon built around the call for “better communication” and “the healing of relationships”.

I agree that Palestinians must understand our narrative and our religious and historical connection to the land. But I heard nothing in what you said on Sunday that could possibly advance Jewish understanding of the Palestinians’ story. Where else do you imagine communication and healing begins?

In the last month we have seen young Palestinians, and not just from the West Bank but from Israel itself, choosing to carry out random and deadly attacks with no central planning or co-ordination.

You praised as “the Jewish way, the Israeli way” the fact that in Israel “we ask courts to pass judgement on the actions of people”. But this ‘knife intifada’ has also been an ‘iPhone intifada’ and what we have seen recorded are numerous examples of instant street executions by Israel’s security forces. You may recall that Lee Rigby’s murderers were caught, arrested, tried before a jury and sentenced to minimum 45 year prison terms. I wonder if we will see any trials like that in Israel.

So by now those perpetrating these crimes know they are likely to die as a result. Something very disturbing is happening to a new generation of Palestinians. They are lashing out indiscriminately and are willing to take life and give up their own in the process.

It’s difficult not to see some kind of relationship between what’s happening and the failure of 25 years of the Oslo peace process. If you are a Palestinian there is no hope. Nothing is going to change. But in your sermon on Sunday your attempt at any kind of political or historical context got no further than this:

“Men and women are waking up in the morning inspired by messages of hate, taking implements  from their kitchen and going out in search of innocent men, women and children to be their victims.”

This is the narrative that boils the entire 100 plus years of Palestinian/Jewish conflict down to: they hate us.

I accept it is much easier to present us, the Jewish people, as the innocent victims of Palestinian hatred, but where is it written that God forbids that you or your listeners, or indeed Benjamin Netanyahu, should read a serious history book? I can recommend some if you’re interested.

Your talk gave more examples of “the Jewish way, the Israeli way” mentioning the behaviour of Israeli medics and police officers who have treated injured Palestinian attackers as evidence of ‘our side’s’ moral superiority. These individuals may be worthy of praise, although some might argue they were simply doing their job. But the underlying message you gave to your audience was one of self-congratulation when what’s really needed is some communal self-awareness.

You said that we (the Jews) “treasure human life”, the obvious inference being that they (the Palestinians) do not.

But how does this attempt to dehumanise ‘the other’ help the situation in any way? How does talk like this lead to the communication and healing you say is so needed?

The first steps towards communication and healing will be listening and learning.

That does not mean forgiving or condoning stabbings and car ramming. But presenting what is happening on the streets of Israel as akin to multiple Lee Rigby murders will not create the environment for dialogue which you say is essential.

In fact, your presentation is only hardening Jewish hearts against anything approaching the compromises that would be required for the “tranquility” you prayed for on Sunday to ever come to pass.

Your examination of Midrashic commentaries on the story of Cain and Abel, introduced a potentially rich vein of pointers to conflict resolution. The Rabbis of old understood how economics, individual relationships and abuse of religion can fuel violent disagreement. But just like your predecessor, Dr. Jonathan Sacks, your exegesis can produce beautiful theology that you then fail to follow through in the context of the modern State of Israel. Perhaps it’s the politics that comes with your job or perhaps it’s a tribal blindness. Either way, your teaching stops short of anything resembling real peace-making.

You finished your sermon praying that “peace and unity will reign in the Holy Land” and that the way forward for the Middle East is through “a negotiated settlement.” You repeated that “if you want peace you need communication”. I couldn’t agree more.

I hope one day you will have the courage to guide and lead the Jewish community to a place where it understands Israel’s part in creating the current conflict and the compromises that will be needed for a just peace to emerge. Right now, it saddens me to say, on the evidence of your sermon at Hendon synagogue, you are failing to provide the moral or communal leadership that will create even the smallest space for communication or healing.

Yours sincerely

Robert Cohen

This post first appeared on the Patheos site.

About Robert Cohen

Cohen is a British writer. He blogs at Micah's Paradigm Shift. http://micahsparadigmshift.blogspot.co.uk/

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54 Responses

  1. Mooser
    October 25, 2015, 5:54 pm

    “Before I go any further, let me put on record my condemnation of these attacks. Others may disagree, but I don’t see Israeli civilians, including Settlers on the West Bank, as legitimate targets for murder or injury in the name of Palestinian resistance.”

    Of course you don’t see it that way, but the Government of Israel seems to disagree with you.
    If they are not “legitimate targets”, what are they doing there? What is their legitimate business there? Maybe the government of Israel should ask them to leave. How could they possibly refuse?

    • Theo
      October 30, 2015, 2:17 pm

      I could not agree more with your statement.
      Occupied and subjugated peoples have the rights to fight their oppressors with any and all means at their disposal. If the israelis find this not a fair game and dangerous, all they have to do is to withdraw from all palestinian lands, including the annexed lebanese and syrian ones, and be satisfied with what the UN and Truman originally gave them. (How much money was in that suitcase Truman received for the recoignation of Israel?)
      Any israeli, who believes in a long future of the state of Israel, based on the present status, also believes in Santa Claus and all those fantastic stories in the old and new tastement.

  2. Stephen Shenfield
    October 25, 2015, 6:13 pm

    Like Hilary Clinton, Rabbi Mirvis is willing to condemn only Palestinian violence against Jews while studiously ignoring Jewish violence against Palestinians. As it is highly implausible that he should be totally unaware of Jewish violence, his silence indicates indifference at best and approval at worst. It seems too soft to accuse him merely of cowardice and poor leadership.

    Speeches like this amount to incitement. Obviously he is inciting Jews to hate Palestinians, despite hypocritical blather about “communication and healing” (while actually pushing the knife deeper into the flesh). He is also inciting Palestinians to hate Jews because that is the natural human reaction to being treated with such callous hypocrisy. As Shylock said, Palestinians also bleed and they too (or at least some of them) are bound to seek revenge.

  3. pabelmont
    October 25, 2015, 10:21 pm

    Imagine, if you will, that Palestinians — all of them! — understood Israel’s Bible-based feeling for the land (BTW, is that only Sabra and Shatilla, sorry, I mean Judea and Samaria, or does it include the coast as well and the south, and the Golan as well?) and other Jewish histories (holocaust); would they then — do you suppose — suddenly say, “OK, boss, I guess I should no longer object to your stealing my homeland, my village,l my house and forgive the 67 years so far in which you have cruelly ruled over me?”

    Let’s see, if Israelis — all of them — knew how cruelly the Palestinians had been treated since 1947 and knew of their attachment to the land, would that make the Israelis roll over on their backs and wish to give the place up to the Palestinians?

    Is that really how human psychology works?

    Learn something new every day from rabbis, you do!

  4. DaBakr
    October 25, 2015, 11:29 pm

    A) what makes Cohen think these attacks are “random” and not planned.

    B) what makes Cohen blind to the very likely possibility that these attacks are a result of Palestinian watching and emulating the dozen’s of IS you tube videos of victims being slaughtered with knives in a literal orgy of blood.

    C) with all the moral equivalence being spewed about Zionists and Nazis and Zionists and Hamas, Fatah,IJ I think Cohen is blind to the absolutely appropriate analogy between the British slaughter and the current knife attacks.

    The Palestinians are not impoverished that the “poor man’s” knife excuse makes any sense either. There are plenty of excess Kalashnikov, guns and other weapons in the WB.

    And considering the sixth victim from the synogog slaughter last year died yesterday, the analogy is even more fitting. Four rabbis and a guard hacked, macheted, and bludgeoned to death with 100s of joyous you tube videos posted after (many focusing on pics of the Jews blood) celebrating the ‘heroic martyrs’ is not going to convince any morally sensible people that there is a big difference in the different actions intent to instill terror. Cohen’s complaint is foolish.

    • eljay
      October 26, 2015, 2:12 pm

      || DaBakr: … morally sensible people … ||

      One thing Zio-supremacists are not is morally-sensible. When they’re not actually committing (war) crimes – or, say, “merely” stabbing, shooting or burning non-Jews to death – they’re busy justifying, excusing, supporting or defending those (war) crimes.

      Zio-supremacists are just a different brand of immoral, supremacist evil.

      • oldgeezer
        October 26, 2015, 3:57 pm

        @eljay

        You’ve described supremacists perfectly. Reprehensible and evil in every word and action.

    • Mooser
      October 26, 2015, 4:19 pm

      “The Palestinians are not impoverished that the “poor man’s” knife excuse makes any sense either. There are plenty of excess Kalashnikov, guns and other weapons in the WB”

      Shorter Dabakr: ‘The Palestinians are some of the most peaceful people on earth, and (almost miraculously in the modern world,) seem to have very little experience or desire for organized violence. They are easy prey’

    • diasp0ra
      October 26, 2015, 4:38 pm

      “The Palestinians are not impoverished that the “poor man’s” knife excuse makes any sense either. There are plenty of excess Kalashnikov, guns and other weapons in the WB.”

      What absolute nonsense, do you have any idea how hard the PA has been cracking down on illegal arms since 2006?

      The only groups left with any weapons are well hidden groups mainly inside refugee camps, and they are a dismally small percentage relative to how it was during the 2nd Intifada.

      Yet again you show that you don’t know what the hell you’re talking about.

      As for the beheading videos by IS, you know these aren’t exactly new? Al-Qaeda produced dozens of these videos during the Iraq War, and they were very widespread.

      The attacks ARE random, please provide me any proof that there is anything linking these people together. Most of them aren’t even a part of any political party or group, are Palestinians connected to a hive mind that sends them orders or something?

    • Kris
      October 27, 2015, 8:54 pm

      @DaBakr: “what makes Cohen blind to the very likely possibility that these attacks are a result of Palestinian watching and emulating the dozen’s of IS you tube videos of victims being slaughtered with knives in a literal orgy of blood.”

      “Very likely possibility”? Palestinians are much more likely to have seen the many thousands of youtube videos of JSIL (Jewish State in the Levant) attacks on people than to have seen the dozens of ISIL youtube videos.

      It is also a “very likely possibility” that most of these “knife attacks” never happened, and the IDF stormtroopers are just planting knives on the victims of their shooting sprees.

    • gamal
      October 27, 2015, 9:12 pm

      “IS you tube videos” or rap lyrics?

    • talknic
      October 27, 2015, 9:38 pm

      @ DaBakr “A) what makes Cohen think these attacks are “random” and not planned”

      Maybe because they’re random?

      “B) what makes Cohen blind to the very likely possibility that these attacks are a result of Palestinian watching and emulating the dozen’s of IS you tube videos of victims being slaughtered with knives in a literal orgy of blood”

      “the very likely possibility” is speculation. Meanwhile back in reality, for over a hundred years they have had front of their eyes and experienced first hand hundreds of thousands of instances of Zionist inspired atrocities and the majority have been occupied by the Jewish State all their lives!

      “C) with all the moral equivalence being spewed about Zionists and Nazis and Zionists and Hamas, Fatah,IJ I think Cohen is blind to the absolutely appropriate analogy between the British slaughter and the current knife attacks”

      You think … got any evidence for that

      “The Palestinians are not impoverished that the “poor man’s” knife excuse makes any sense either. There are plenty of excess Kalashnikov, guns and other weapons in the WB”

      But they’re using knives and rocks … those well armed Palestinians are a weird lot

      “And considering the sixth victim from the synogog slaughter last year died yesterday”

      Terribly sad that he allowed himself to duped by consecutive Israeli Governments and Zionist propaganda

      Go spew at the morons who encouraged him and hundreds of thousands of others to be illegally in Occupied Territories against GC IV, a convention adopted to protect all civilians including those of the Occupying Power from becoming embroiled in the violent consequences of occupying another people

      ” … 100s of joyous you tube videos posted after (many focusing on pics of the Jews blood) celebrating the ‘heroic martyrs’ “

      An example please …. otherwise we might think you’re just another wailgob Israeli propagandist

      Oh and not from Memri or PMW please … unless of course you can corroborate their translations … thx I’ll wait

      • talknic
        October 29, 2015, 2:29 am

        and wait ……

    • Theo
      October 31, 2015, 10:10 am

      DaBakr

      Reading your above nonsense I wish to go to Palestina to teach those poor subjugated persons how really to make the israelis suffer and fear. They are just too naive and peaceful, not a match for the aggression of the bloodthirsty zionists.

  5. just
    October 26, 2015, 6:19 am

    Well done, pabelmont.

    It’s time for a dirge… and something much more akin to kindness and understanding.

    Please play it again.

  6. Ossinev
    October 26, 2015, 7:12 am

    “Men and women are waking up in the morning inspired by messages of hate, taking implements from their kitchen and going out in search of innocent men, women and children to be their victims.”

    A perfect description of the IDF then ( the implements are for dropping at the scene of the slaughter just in case they are caught on camera )

    BOYCOTT APARTHEID ISRAEL

    • niass2
      October 26, 2015, 3:20 pm

      teenagers everywhere slaughter rooms of people, especailly in America, and Sierra leone. Both are sick societies, but Sierra leone is on the mend. if its a basic impulse, which it is, it maybe time for the remaining sane Jews to get out of Isreal and move back to eastern europe. That’s where I am from, not the middle east. Isreal should invade Poland and take back Warsaw, then we’ll have a real good subject to discuss. When Poland objects tell them to call Germany to complain. That makes more sense than this whole fake isreal thing which is obviously not theirs. If any of it was theirs, they have forfeited their rights by being obnoxious.

  7. Kay24
    October 26, 2015, 7:17 am

    “You said that we (the Jews) “treasure human life”, the obvious inference being that they (the Palestinians) do not.”

    Strange, how the side that “treasures” human lives always ends up being accused of using excessive force, bombs UN shelters, and ends up causing MORE casualties.

    This speech can be filed under “incitement”, so how about cutting the aid for the Israelis too,
    Congress, or is that only for civilians living under occupation?

  8. eljay
    October 26, 2015, 7:39 am

    … You reminded your listeners of the sympathy the British public and the media felt towards Lee’s family and our collective horror at the nature of his murder (an attempted beheading) by two Jihadists both born and raised in Britain. You then asked us to imagine such attacks happening up and down Britain for days on end. …

    Is Mr. Mirvis suggesting that as long as no-one was beheaded he would be comfortable with foreign forces occupying and colonizing Britain, oppressing, torturing and killing Britons and establishing a religion-supremacist state?

    If ‘no’, why does he hypocritically defend such actions when they are committed by Zio-supremacist Jews on behalf of Zio-supremacist Jews (and purportedly on behalf of all Jews)?

  9. RoHa
    October 26, 2015, 7:49 am

    ‘You said that we (the Jews) “treasure human life”, ‘

    But only Jews are fully human.

    • Keith
      October 26, 2015, 4:41 pm

      ROHA- “But only Jews are fully human.”

      Perhaps that explains Jewish tribal solidarity. The need for fully human companionship?

      • Mooser
        October 26, 2015, 5:45 pm

        “Perhaps that explains Jewish tribal solidarity. The need for fully human companionship?”

        Leaving only the tricky problem of which Jewish tribe to pick.

      • Citizen
        October 26, 2015, 8:40 pm

        @ Keith
        No sense of historical irony, eh?

      • Keith
        October 27, 2015, 12:46 pm

        MOOSER- “Leaving only the tricky problem of which Jewish tribe to pick.”

        Jewish tribe? And all this time I assumed that you were a member of the Suquamish tribe, living so close and all. Oh well, live and learn.

      • Mooser
        October 27, 2015, 3:37 pm

        “And all this time I assumed that you were a member of the Suquamish tribe,”

        I have not had the honor of being inducted into the Suquamish. There is a half-a-city-block-sized property very close to me which is reservation land, probably reserved (as that I believe is the term) to the tribe as a place to live for members working at Puget Sound Naval Shipyard .

    • JWalters
      October 26, 2015, 6:27 pm

      That’s his central belief, causing this whole conflict. And like the slaveholders, he will persist in this belief, and persist in actions based on this belief, until he is FORCED to stop those actions. Then he will remain indignant until the day he dies.

  10. Elliot
    October 26, 2015, 8:45 am

    Long gone are the days of Chief Rabbi Immanuel Jakobovits, a moderate compared to Ephraim Mirvis. Rabbi Mirvis was trained in Israel in a settler-friendly seminary. His installation as Chief Rabbi was honored by the presence of Prince Charles. HRH was escorted into the ceremony by the Israeli ambassador to the Court of St. James with equal billing to British royalty.

    Mirvis is the Israeli Hasbara team’s dream rabbi. He is just doing his job.

    • Mooser
      October 26, 2015, 11:13 am

      Rabbi Mirvis was trained in Israel in a settler-friendly seminary.

      Thanks Elliot.

      • Elliot
        October 26, 2015, 1:35 pm

        Thanks, Mooser.
        The specifics of Rabbi Mirvis’ religious education in Israel are:
        1) Har Etzion – on the West Bank
        2) Kerem B’yavneh
        Both of these combine religious studies with military service. The Israeli seminary students/soldiers serve in the IDF combat units that police the West Bank.
        3) Machon Ariel – founded by the spiritual father of the settler movement, Rabbi Kook.

      • niass2
        October 26, 2015, 2:41 pm

        Settler friendly with free laundry for anyone wearing a white sheet.

      • Mooser
        October 26, 2015, 4:15 pm

        Thanks again Elliot. Apparently my link went awry. Sorry.

      • yonah fredman
        October 26, 2015, 9:30 pm

        Elliot- I’m sure that a percentage of the students spend time in the IDF on the west bank, but you imply that this is the only sort of military service done by hesder yeshiva student/soldiers and if that is your assertion, you’d have to back it up with some link.

      • Mooser
        October 27, 2015, 11:39 am

        “I’m sure that a percentage of the students spend time in the IDF on the west bank, but you imply that this is the only sort of military service done by hesder yeshiva student/soldiers and if that is your assertion, you’d have to back it up with some link.”

        “Yonah” you didn’t grow up around dogs or cows, did you? I’m tefillin’ you now, I learned to recognize the feel of my shoe-sole sinking into a big steaming pile. It’s a sort of squishy-slidey feeling.

        But Yes, Yonah, by all means, let’s open up the subject of Israel’s Fightin’ Rabbi’s. A glorious chapter in Jewish history!

    • Elliot
      October 27, 2015, 10:52 am

      @ Yonah,

      That implication is yours, not mine.

      I don’t know which circles you moved in when you lived in Israel but if you had any exposure to Hesder yeshivas you would know that they are heavily into settler ideology. They believe the entire Land of Israel was given by God to the Jewish people. They believe that it is the fulfillment of Zionism to settle the West Bank, including building more yeshivas there (see Mirvis’ Har Etzion yeshiva among many others). Look at the voting patterns in these yeshivas – they vote en masse for parties that endorse the Greater Land of Israel. And they serve in the military units that enforce Israel’s violent control of the Palestinians, the purple berets of the Givati Brigade and others.

      And yes, the main function of the Israeli army is to enforce the occupation of the West Bank, the siege of Gaza with occasional forays into Lebanon. Israel’s actual safety is, yet again, guaranteed by the U.S. in the form of the Mediterranean-based Sixth Fleet.

      But that has nothing to do with settler ideology.

      Still, good job none of these well-indoctrinated Hesder yeshiva boys will ever shirk military duty on account of some bleeding heart “conscience.”

      • yonah fredman
        October 27, 2015, 11:56 am

        I studied in Har Etzion and though I do not attribute my leftism (a rightist on Mondoweiss but the leftistest at every friday night shabbos meal) to my time at the Gush, as it is called, i have great respect for the two leaders of the yeshiva, Lichtenstein and Amital, and had great respect for them while they were alive and they were independent thinkers and established a yeshiva in a fashion that has hurt Israel in the long run physically and in the short run morally as you have pointed out.

        Question: is that soapbox handcuffed to an ankle bracelet or something?

      • Mooser
        October 27, 2015, 12:30 pm

        “(a rightist on Mondoweiss but the leftistest at every friday night shabbos meal)”

        Oy Gevalt Yonah, I know exactly what you mean! Like the old saying: ‘One Jew, two opinions.’

        “Question: is that soapbox handcuffed to an ankle bracelet or something?”

        What the hell is that supposed to mean in relation to Elliot? “An ankle bracelet”?
        Yonah, when the Internet was invented I bet you sang “Hallelujah, and tell the denture clinic to cancel my account”

        And if Elliot has a soapbox, it is grounded in experience and knowledge. Are you saying Elliot is a criminal, with an “ankle bracelet”? What the hell is wrong with you?

        and had great respect for them while they were alive and they were independent thinkers and established a yeshiva in a fashion that has hurt Israel in the long run physically and in the short run morally as you have pointed out.

        Ah, but you respect them, enough to infer that Elliot” is a sex criminal for dissing them albeit indeirectly. You must hate your teeth, or maybe your nose?.

      • Mooser
        October 27, 2015, 12:43 pm

        “I studied in Har Etzion….”

        You must have, “Yonah”. I could feel them cringe from all the way in the US Northwest when I read that. Why don’t your “Har Etzion” buddies come and back you up here?

  11. Vera Gottlieb
    October 26, 2015, 10:36 am

    These people are losing all moral compass. They see themselves as victims while thinking nothing of victimizing others.

  12. niass2
    October 26, 2015, 2:37 pm

    My Cousin Ariel is a rabbi, I highly doubt he is this stupid or simple,but you never know. I should ask him. I know his parents are nuts, but I love them even if they are 100% wrong. Its like they are the Europe of the 1700’s. A rabbi is another word for….idiot in my book, Then again I am writing from Boston where priests like to……

    This kind of thinking is what I call third grade sandbox thinking, anything that ever happens is always someone else’s fault.

    Judaism is fine, but a rabbi who doesnt understand reality cant be a rabbi and anyone who would follow him is following an idol. Nitanyahoo is an idol, that’s all. God hates people like him, ask any local repo man. You cant go to heaven with your ammunition anyways.

    I highly doubt this so called Chief understands judaism, but does anyone on earth really get it? Is religion only about propagating Violence. Its all a bunch of junk written by other men anyways. These victims such as this rabbi live in fancy homes and wear clean clothes and drive mercedes, probably a white mercedes, generally. Palestinians Drive Prius’s.

  13. echinococcus
    October 26, 2015, 5:41 pm

    I don’t care whose friend or relative Mr Cohen is, publishing this in Mondoweiss as if there were not enough Zionist propaganda channels in the world is really a slap in the face of your readership.

    “I agree that Palestinians must understand our narrative and our religious and historical connection to the land.”

    Who is next on the family affair?

    • MHughes976
      October 28, 2015, 5:44 am

      Cohen is of course absolutely right – and he makes the point clearly and effectively, for which I’m grateful – that there can be no communication without willingness to listen, a willingness that Mirvis seems not to show.
      However, ‘the Palestinians must understand…’ sounds menacing in its own way. I am sure that they do understand very well, having heard it all said loudly and proudly and often, that Zionism makes claims based on ancient history, from Biblical and other sources, on pogroms and on the terrible events of WW2. They do not, despite surely understanding all this, accept the conclusions that are drawn. If ‘they must understand’ morphs into ‘they must accept’ then the need for communication is quite restricted.
      Cohen, who is clearly interested in the religious aspect of the problem. has made many enlightened statements but he seemed to react rather unmercifully when Stephen Sizer was crushed.

      • RoHa
        October 28, 2015, 6:48 am

        “They do not, despite surely understanding all this, accept the conclusions that are drawn. ”

        It might help if the conclusions were bolstered by at least a rumour of shadow of a ghost of a hint of the beginnings of a possible sketch of what might, after much development, and when viewed with generosity of spirit, be something that vaguely resembles an approximation of an argument for those conclusions.

        But no such has been provided, so probably not.

      • echinococcus
        October 28, 2015, 9:53 am

        Well, a lot of people have no patience with nonsense. Bringing the very essence of religious-fundamentalism-or-fake-nationalism of subjective “connections” with the verb must is nothing but Zionist propaganda in “plausibly deniable” garb on grammatical fine points, as you just showed.

  14. Doubtom
    October 27, 2015, 12:12 am

    How does one get to be a “Chief” rabbi? In true Jewish fashion, does he have to out-argue or out- shout all the others? And why should anyone pay any more attention to the ramblings of one religious nut over the others. I’m sure we can find another religious nut to contradict each and every word uttered by this funny looking character.

    • Elliot
      October 27, 2015, 8:47 pm

      It’s a state function. The Brits are funny people. The descendant of the French guy who killed the English guy at Hastings does double duty as Defender of the Faith. They bring in an archbishop to crown the monarch in that old guy’s church. Their kings and princes put on their best military uniforms when they go to church. And just in case God forgets what this is all about, they carry their swords into church and up to the altar. Funny guys, those Brits.
      Anyway, that rubs off on to other religions. Well, at least the Jews. The Chief Rabbi is he poor man’s Archbishop of Golders Green. He doesn’t wear purple dresses but he makes all the Jews feel like they have a stage in British pageantry.
      For the most part, his job is impossible. He has no authority to enforce doctrine. He has to make nice with the Reform while not crossing whatever line the Orthodox lay down. His predecessor, the noted celebrity Lord Sacks had the advantage of not having a conscience. From what I hear Mirvis is actually a nice guy. Unless of course if your are Palestinian watching this nonsense and then his niceness to Jews is not really relevant at all.

    • echinococcus
      October 28, 2015, 9:58 am

      Doubtom,
      Very simple: one gets appointed Grand Chacham by the Sultan. That’s what makes you Grand, investing the person with **political, strictly temporary** power. Similarly, how can you run a theocracy such as, say, Saudi Arabia or “Israel” without an official chief religious authority?

    • Michael Chester
      October 29, 2015, 3:11 pm

      He’s not Britain’s Chief Rabbi. There is no such thing. Ephraim Mirvis is chief rabbi for (some) Jewish congregations in Britain. It’s not quite the same thing.

      • Elliot
        October 29, 2015, 4:48 pm

        Website of the Chief Rabbi of Britain and the Commonwealth:
        http://www.chiefrabbi.org/

      • Mooser
        October 29, 2015, 6:49 pm

        “Ephraim Mirvis is chief rabbi for (some) Jewish congregations. It’s not quite the same thing.”

        Agreed. A real Chef Rabbi is an extraordinary man.

      • MHughes976
        October 29, 2015, 7:23 pm

        The title he uses, I think, is Chief Rabbi of the Unitrd Hebrew Congregations of the Commonwealth. I think that most British people have come to regard the holder of this title as ‘THE Chief Rabbi’ and it has become customary that after a short time in office he enters the House of Lords.

      • RoHa
        October 29, 2015, 7:37 pm

        “it has become customary that after a short time in office he enters the House of Lords.”

        More proof that Britain is a fundamentally anti-Semitic country.

      • Mooser
        October 29, 2015, 7:38 pm

        “Website of the Chief Rabbi of Britain and the Commonwealth:
        link to chiefrabbi.org”

        No recipes at all. Not a single one.

      • Mooser
        October 30, 2015, 11:43 am

        ” I think that most British people have come to regard the holder of this title as ‘THE Chief Rabbi’ and it has become customary”

        That is absurd. I can’t stand sinecures. The BBC should hold a televised competition for “England’s Top Rabbi”. And not just blintzes and stuffed peppers and chicken soup. They have to prepare Asian and French noel cuisine (traditional Christmas dishes), too.

  15. Annie Robbins
    October 27, 2015, 7:04 pm

    thank you robert cohen. i listened to his speech twice and sensed it was highly manipulative propaganda. iow, a set up. i thought you were very generous with the man. i actually transcribed whole portions of his speech and thought ‘why should i bother’ breaking this down. but i wouldn’t go to a place of worship to listen to this man. he was very disrespectful imho, using the opportunity his position affords him to glorify one people at the expense of another, whom he demonized. he even took a swipe at their religion w/his interpretation of the biblical story. he left it all on a cheery note but that didn’t wash away all the (manipulative) bs in his speech.

    if this sort of speech is worthy of a “chief rabbi” it speaks volumes about a state of mind within the UK’s religious jewish community. rotting. sad. unethical.

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