Something is bothering someone who is Koret distinguished fellow and chairman of the core curriculum at Jerusalem’s Shalem College * - Rabbi Dr. Daniel Gordis.
In a column, A Dose of Nuance — Wanted: A vision for a Jewish and Israeli society, published on December 15, he starts off by comparing "the tyranny of dress code and punishment for women living under Islamic State" and his example there was a women who "lifted her veil just enough to get a spoon into her mouth when she was having a picnic with her family" and who then was "sentenced...to 21 lashes with a cable that had metal spikes attached to it" with "the proposed law that would govern women’s dress at the Western Wall" noting that "if the law passes, a woman who wears a tallit could be sent to jail".
Yes, jail is a bit steep, I agree.
But one: the law hasn't passed. And secondly, I don't think it calls for lashes.
Gordis plods on in outrage:
But what if she simply wears a kippa? What if her sleeves are deemed too short and the haredi community finds that offensive? Will she go to jail? How different will the Western Wall be from areas under Islamic State control?
To make a comparison, even partially like that, is really odd. After all, if a Jewish woman appears in a less-covered body, say, short sleeves, on the Temple Mount, she, too, will be removed and maybe even arrested or at least detained. She won't be lashed, though. However, the Waqf guards and other Muslims might stone her. Since that is under Israel's control, I think Gordis could have made that comparison, or at least, in passing, noted the situation.
He continues and charges an MK with "racism", echoing Joint List head Ayman Odehwho accused the MK with "blatant racism and cheap populism"
Likud Party MK and coalition chairman David Bitan made reference to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s infamous comment last election day that Jews had better hurry to vote because Arabs were going “in droves” to the polls. Bitan, apparently, feels that Netanyahu did not go far enough. “I’d rather the Arabs won’t go to the polls in droves, and won’t come to the polls at all,” he said.
Actually, he said a bit more, adding later
“I don’t know why it’s such a big deal,” he said. “In elections, both sides hope its opponents don’t come vote.”
Gordis has that as
What party wants to see its opponents going to the polls? he asked.
In other words, Bitan, considering the Joint List an Arab party, which it is, spoke of political opponents and was not uttering racialist claptrap.
Gordis also measures Bitan's knowledge or intelligence or both, writing:
his obvious lack of understanding of how democratic systems function, is bad enough.
But Gordis' real target is Prime Minister Netanyahu who he has been sniping at for a while now as, just for example, in
The Desperation Behind Netanyahu's Holocaust Blunder, October 23, 2015
Netanyahu overplayed his hand, May 31, 2016
although he has taken hits for his Zionism as well.
Here is what he wrote this past week in the above referenced article:
What makes matters worse, however, is that citizens have no way of knowing, at least as of this writing, what their prime minister thinks about Bitan’s views. Netanyahu, the consummate political survivor, has chosen to let Bitan do his dirty work, and has remained silent during this most recent brouhaha.
So, too, with the Kotel...the prime minister has chosen to remain silent in the face of the proposed Kotel legislation as well.
He grinds on and notes that "In about two years, Netanyahu will become Israel’s longest serving prime minister. [This: "According to a study by the Israel Democracy Institute, Netanyahu would pass up Ben-Gurion to become Israel’s longest-serving leader "]" and asks:
how many of us know what he believes Israeli society should look like? Does he have a vision for how the Jewish state should be Jewish? Does he have a vision, beyond platitudes, for the place that Israeli Arabs should have in a democratic Israel? The fact that few of us can answer those questions is Netanyahu’s greatest failure...our leadership appears stymied; here, too, we are at the whim of political currents no one seems to have the gumption, or principle, to want to confront.
He compares Netanyahu to Ben-Gurion who had "penned thousands of pages, filled with his vision for the society he was seeking to shape" and Menachem Begin, who "left an enormous corpus of writing about the society he thought Israel ought to become."
That's a tall order and a high bar Gordis is setting.
In any case, Netanyahu has a few books which one can purchase:
A Durable Peace, 512 pages
A Place Among the Nations, 467 pages
Fighting Terror, 180 pages
and was an editor of the volume his brother's letters.
How many books did Yitzhak Rabin author?
Gordis does admit that Netanyahu has a problem not of his making:
this prime minister is not going to bring about a resolution to Israel’s conflict; our enemies are nowhere near ready for that.
and he thus has his article emphasizing internal issues:
Do Arabs in Israel count? Do non-Orthodox Jews have any rights? Do we aspire to be leaders of the freedoms of the Western world? Will we be content to become a Levantine backwater? It would be nice to know what our prime minister thinks about all this, to what he aspires.
These questions are important but, I would hazard a guess, those are two different sets of issues. One very internal and one that Gordis links to relations with Diaspora communities which practice a very non-Orthodox life style with different Judaic-content practices.
As Gordis informs his readers, Netanyahu apologized that his words were not clear and led to a misunderstanding of his actual intentions.
Before my election, I said Arab voters were going to the polls in droves. I was referring to a specific political party but many people were understandably offended. I apologized for how my comment was misunderstood. But today I want to go further. Today I am asking Arab citizens of Israel to take part in our society—in droves. Work in droves, study in droves, thrive in droves,"
Arabs do count and Netanyahu is doing things for them including making sure the law is applied to them equally as to Jews.
I am still trying to figure out why Netanyahu has become such a problem for Gordis, other than not being Begin.
In a promotional message, Shalem presents itself as "not just a college" but "a vision for the Jewish state", an institution that "create[s] leading citizens for Israel...who seek...the betterment of their country...a small group of students poised to make an outsize impact on their country – for Israelis, and for the Jewish people everywhere."