Bintel Blog

On Jerusalem, Breaking a Taboo

By Daniel Treiman

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Rabbi Yosef Kanefsky, the spiritual leader of a Modern Orthodox Los Angeles synagogue, has penned a tremendously brave article in this week’s L.A. Jewish Journal. In it, he writes:

The question of whether we could bear a redivision of Jerusalem is a searing and painful one. The Orthodox Union, National Council of Young Israel and a variety of other organizations, including Christian Evangelical ones, are calling upon their constituencies to join them in urging the Israeli government to refrain from any negotiation concerning the status of Jerusalem at all, when and if the Annapolis conference occurs. And last week, as I read one e-mail dispatch after another from these organizations, I became more and more convinced that I could not join their call.

It’s not that I would want to see Jerusalem divided. It’s rather that the time has come for honesty. Their call to handcuff the government of Israel in this way, their call to deprive it of this negotiating option, reveals that these organizations are not being honest about the situation that we are in, and how it came about. And I cannot support them in this.

These are extremely difficult thoughts for me to share, both because they concern an issue that is emotionally charged, and because people whose friendship I treasure will disagree strongly with me. And also because I am breaking a taboo within my community, the Orthodox Zionist community. “Jerusalem: Israel’s Eternally Undivided Capital” is a 40-year old slogan that my community treats with biblical reverence. It is an article of faith, a corollary of the belief in the coming of the Messiah. It is not questioned. But this final reason why it is difficult for me to share these thoughts is also the very reason that I have decided to do so. This is a conversation that desperately needs to begin.

No peace conference between Israel and the Palestinians will ever produce anything positive until both sides have decided to read the story of the last 40 years honestly. On our side, this means being honest about the story of how Israel came to settle civilians in the territories it conquered in 1967, and about the outcomes that this story has generated.

The full article is very much worth reading.

Among hawks and doves alike, there are those who see everything in black-and-white, whose top priority is feeling affirmed in their own certitudes and feelings of self-righteousness. On the left, these are the people who insist with complete certainty that Israel would have peace, if only it behaved justly — ignoring the Jewish state’s very real security concerns (not to mention the agency and culpability of the Palestinians). On the right, those who want Israel to hold onto every inch of the West Bank conveniently conclude that peace is not possible anyway (and turn a blind eye — and a hard heart — to Palestinians’ legitimate grievances).

Rabbi Kanefsky definitely does not fall into either of these camps. That’s why his voice is so refreshing, particularly since he hails from a community that has been known more for zeal on this issue than for thoughtfulness. One can only hope that his article will be widely read and openly debated within the Modern Orthodox world. Let the conversation begin!

Mark Fri. Oct 26, 2007

He's hardly thought of as Orthodox by many of his peers,he also supported making Gaza Judenrein. <a href=""></a>

SY Katz Fri. Oct 26, 2007

The "Rabbi" can tell us all about it on his next two week "fact-finding" tour. Does Halacha even play a roll in his very moderate and liberal opinion. V'techezenah Aynannu Bshuvcha L'tzion B'rachamim - that is Jerusalem. I expect this from others, not from an "Orthodox Rabbi". Oh and by the way, I actually live in Israel

Sephardiman Mon. Oct 29, 2007

I admire Rabbi Kanefsky for his wisdom and courage. Chazak U'Braukh L'Kvod HaRav!

J Zelinger Sat. Oct 27, 2007

This person is nuts. We only have Jerusalem and its Wall, what other place do we have to love, Arabs have Mecca and many other places that they call religious sites (the world) as do the Christians and he wants us (Jews) to give it away. As we say NO WAY JOSE. This made me sick.

A.K. Sat. Oct 27, 2007

First and foremost, as Jews, we have an obligation to respect those that are smarter than ourselves. Rabbi Kanefsky, and I say "Rabbi" for he in fact is an orthodox rabbi who has recieved smicha from YU, is not terribly off the path of truth with this. Please explain to me why having control over Arab cities in Jeruselem helps us. Obviously, when mashiach comes we will get everything back, so why fight so much about this...

Rachel Sat. Nov 3, 2007

Divide Jerusalem to create a terrorist state? Rabbi Kanefsky reflects a schizoid personality that the so-called ‘progressive’ Jews of LA suffer of, regretfully. In effect, they feed the anti-Semites and those who wish to wipe Israel off the map and at the same time encourage those intractable enemies of the West who seek world dominion such as fanatical Islam today, which include most of the Arab/Palestinians society. Rabbi Kanefsky is removed from reality, facts and history.

DAN Sat. Nov 3, 2007

AN OPEN LETTER TO RABBI KANEFSKY, A MUST READ. EDUCATIONAL. Dear Rabbi Kanefsky, Your efforts at upholding the truth are quite commendable. As you rightly said in your last paragraph, “There will be peace the day after there will be truth.” Unfortunately, truth has been ignored by politicians since the “peace process” started in 1993, which explains the existential anguish that Jews and Israelis are going through. I hope Israeli leaders will heed your call for disclosing the full truth so that they can embark upon a new era of lasting peace. Of course, the pursuit of truth requires knowledge first. What are we to call “truth” if we have no clue of reality? Also, reality should be known in its entirety and this knowledge should not be truncated, as the Palestinians do, a point you aptly emphasize in your article. It is only when all the facts are brought to light that the full story can be told honestly. I have no doubt that honesty is paramount to you, as you mentioned this term – and any variations thereof – no less than 21 times in your piece. I am prepared to grant you the mantle of honesty but only partially, very partially. Knowingly or not, you jumped on the honesty wagon before ascertaining the truth of what you wrote. And what you omitted from your exposé is so glaring that you are misinforming your readers in a grand scale. Like the Palestinians who regularly present their narrative in their distorted fashion, you too have grossly truncated the truth by limiting your view of reality to the post 1967 period. Had your vision not been so narrowly limited, you would have discovered that the international community recognized the historical connection of the Jewish people to the whole of Palestine, including Jerusalem, back in 1920; that Jewish settlement of the whole land, including Judea and Samaria, was not only allowed but highly encouraged; that these territories were not to be ceded to any foreign power; and that all those provisions received the imprimatur of international law. Instead, you write that Israel is illegally occupying these territories; that the settlement of these lands should not have taken place; that this situation violates international law; and that those who challenge these views “refuse to read history honestly.” The most eminent legal experts in international law – Stephen Schwebel, Sir Elihu Lauterpacht, Eugene Rostow, Julius Stone and many others – would strongly disagree with each and every one of your assertions. On your side, though, you may find some allies in characters like Jimmy Carter; Arab academics of dubious credibility; the Neturei Karta sect; the leaders of Hamas, Fatah and Hezbollah, as well as a host of their Jewish sycophants who have been thoroughly brainwashed by the very kind of article you just wrote. I leave it to you to choose the most credible camp. Allow me, Rabbi Kanefsky, to conclude with a saying from the Talmud: “If you add to the truth, you subtract from it.” What you did in your article is far worse: you started by subtracting from the truth. This can only be attributed to ignorance, sloppiness or, dare I say, malice. Whatever the case may be, your 21 instances of the word “honest” ring hollow. I don’t know what drove you to jettison the collective rights of the Jewish people and to disparage Jewry in the process. But I suggest that you and your supporters get better informed and, most importantly, get finally over your guilty Jewish hang-ups. Best regards, S.B. Toronto, Canada P.S.: You claim that those who oppose your views “have never offered any alternative solution.” Nothing could be farther from the truth. Consider just a few of the alternatives: - Dr. Martin Sherman: “The Humanitarian Solution”, - MK Benny Elon: “The Israeli Initiative”

Michelle de la Fresange Sun. Nov 4, 2007

Even Arabs of East Jerusalem refuse to divide this city. In fact, they adamantly demand to remain under Israeli rule. "In East Jerusalem, residents say they would fight a handover to Abbas regime" Read more here: Rabbi Dov Fischer keeps things in perspective. He penned an excellent article accepting Yosef Kanfesky's invitation to dialogue about this honesty regarding the Jewish people's eternal claim to an undivided Jerusalem, the capital of the Jewish people homeland, Israel. It is a necessary read and correctly titled: WE HAVE THE RIGHT TO AN INDIVISIBLE JERUSALEM read it here: If Kanefsky had any knowledge about international law, he would have cited this link: Legal Rights and Title of Sovereignty of the Jewish People to the Land of Israel and Palestine under International Law -- Howard Grief . A necessary read too: But he has no clue... Yes, it is true peace can come and it must begin with the truth, and it needs a peaceful will by all parties. Yet, Israel repeatedly extended her hand to peace but repeatedly her hand was in no time chopped off. One can never appease a barbaric/savage beasts, the PLO, Hamas, Hizballah et-al. Israel is bleeding and the timing Rabbi Yosef Kanefsky chose to raise his own ambiguous mindset about the Jewish State preserving Jerusalem in one piece while he comfortably lives at Pico & Robertson - California, a real stolen land, is not only incomprehensible but also shameful, let alone coming from a so called Orthodox rabbi. Not only that Kanefsky lack sense of reality but also he distorts historical factual truth. He is either naive, unknowledgeable, or simply a dishonest useless/useful idiot like those on the far left everywhere who choose political correctness over honesty and truth, and/or in need of attention they lack. Sadly, to say rabbis or others like Yosef Kanefsky lack backbone, resolution, pride, and/or Jewish pride. He and his ilk at the LA Jewish Journal are vacuous to say the least. But far worse and again, these CONFUSED, fringe leftists everywhere are encouraging the Arabs/Muslims/Nazis et al, whose ultimate goal is to destroy Israel, and emboldening the barbaric/radical Islam who seek world dominion. Wake up freedom loving people, use common sense. Kanefsky is at best ignoramus fool.

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