Here is an excellent talk on Trump’s decision to recognize Jerusalem as the capital of “the Jewish people,” published ten days ago by the scholar Yaakov Shapiro, an anti-Zionist rabbi for an orthodox Queens synagogue and an expert on Jewish history and law (who has been endorsed by Norton Mezvinsky).
Here are some of Shapiro’s points about Jewish religion and Jewish nationalism:
“President Trump has the right to make whatever foreign policy he wants. And if he feels that Miami Beach is best to recognize as the capital of Israel, that’s his business, he can do it. But once he starts talking about the Jewish people, now he’s encroaching on religion and that is my domain. There is absolutely no political relationship between the Jewish people and Jerusalem, it’s merely a holy city…
“The Jewish people don’t have a capital. We have never had a capital. Countries have capitals…. The Jewish people are not a country or a region, the Jewish people are a religious community. We pray towards Jerusalem, but we relate to Jerusalem only as a holy city not as a political capital city of the Jewish people.
“And all of those overtures that we make to Jerusalem, and the yearning we have for Jerusalem is only as a holy city, not as a capital city. And because it’s a holy city, it doesn’t matter who has sovereignty over it. Jerusalem is just as holy and just as much Jerusalem whether it’s under the auspices of the Turks or the Romans or the British or whoever.”
Shapiro turns to Zionism, as contradicting the traditional Jewish religion.
“It’s important to know that the Zionists are the ones that started this business of the capital of the Jewish people, and it’s an idea that directly conflicts with the teachings of Judaism.
“The Jewish people aren’t a people because of a land… or a language… or a culture… When we accepted the religion, given to us by God, that’s when we became the Jewish people. We had no land, we had no territories, no capital city.”
Shapiro says some commentators say that the reason God gave Jews the law in the desert before they went into the holy land was to show, Jewishness has nothing to do with land. Jewishness comes from accepting the religion.
Then he speaks of the irreligious element of Zionist leaders.
“These are not religious Jews that are running the country, they are atheists. And yet the Israeli prime ministers from Ben-Gurion to Netanyahu use the bible as an excuse for ownership of the land… Ben-Gurion… didn’t believe God spoke to the prophets. He doesn’t believe it at all. Neither does Netanyahu at all.”
Netanyahu works on the Sabbath and is not kosher, thereby defying traditional Jewish laws.
“There is nothing holy in the bible that Netanyahu cares about, the only thing he cares about is his land.”
More on the difference between the religion and the land of Israel:
“Israel is not the Jewish people. You hear these Israelis, Zionists, saying Jerusalem has the connection to the Jewish people for 2000 years, 3000 years, 4000 years. That’s all true, but it doesn’t translate into well, therefore Jerusalem has to be part of Israel.”
Zionist claims are an assault on the Jewish religion, because Benjamin Netanyahu has no right to claim that he is the leader of the Jewish people and that “his state is mine.” No, Shapiro was born in America, his father was born in Poland, his mother’s family is British.
“We have nothing to do with Israel. We are Jews, we’re observant Jews, we’re religious Jews… Israel is not my nation state in the slightest. This is a unilateral claim of the Israelis, of the Zionists, and it’s an assault on my religion.
“So too the claim that Jerusalem is the capital of the Jewish people, because it transforms the Jewish people from a religious identity to a national, a political identity. It’s an assault on my religion when he said that because Jerusalem is so connected to the Jewish people, therefore must be part of Israel. Jerusalem’s holiness has nothing to do with who owns it. It certainly has no reason to be part of the state of Israel.”
Correction: Originally we incorrectly gave Rabbi Shapiro’s name as David not Yaakov. Our sincere apologies ~ Ed.