Israel alienating Christians as well as liberal Jews?
12/08/2010 - 14:51
James Besser

The controversy over a rabbinic edict in Israel not to rent property to non-Jews is prompting angst in some American Jewish boardrooms, but not a lot of noise; among major American Jewish groups, only the ADL has condemned the expression of religious extremism and intolerance, far as I can tell.

Over at Jew School, the never-shy Reb Yudel doesn't mince words. In a blog, he asks this provocative question: “Why is the US spending $3 billion a year to finance anti-Christian bigotry,” referring to Israel's annual U.S. aid allotment. And he wonders about the long-term consequences.

While Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has condemned the rabbinic ruling, he “has not done anything to fire the rabbis who issued it,” he writes. “So too, the ruling has not been countered by the chief rabbis, or by any of the rabbis who guide Netanyahu’s coalition partners. In other words, while Netanyahu may profess outrage, this does seem to be the normative halachic ruling for the State of Israel.”

The Orthodox establishment in Israel “has gone to great lengths to alienate 5 million non-Orthodox American Jews,” and now they're doing the same to tick off “over a billion Christians” he writes.

What I'm wondering: how do rulings like this play with ardent Christian Zionists?

Will they be forgiving of Netanyahu and his extreme coalition partners because they are on the same page on so many other issues – including Israel's right to all the West Bank and Jerusalem?

Or will this cross an important line for many, suggesting that their reward for strong support for Israel is “anti-Christian bigotry,” as Reb Yudel puts it?

We already know how it will play out in the Jewish community: the left will be wearily indignant; most centrist groups, with the exception of the ADL, will ignore it out of the misguided view that the world won't notice if they swallow their misgivings; the right will blame it on a media that is always looking for ways to slander the Jewish state.

And Arab-American leaders will probably scratch their heads, wondering why Jewish groups demand that they denounce every last one of the extremists in their community while refusing to do the same about extremists who seem to have some kind of immunity because they are rabbis.

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The ruling has no power and should be denounced. But if Mr. Besser cared about opinion, as opposed to his personal Jihad against religious nationalists and conservatives, he would note the following: 1. A majority of privately-held land is owned by Arabs. 2. Many towns in Israel have the same rules regarding Arabs not selling or renting to Jews. Jews who move to Arab villages in Israel, are assaulted or killed by Israeli Arabs, Druze and Bedouin. 3. Renting or selling to Jews is a capitol crime in the Palestinian Authority. Similarly, Jews cannot own property in 3/4 of Palestine (Jordan.)