Regev Responds

Netanyahu has not and will not disavow MK Amsalem's outbursts

Assault religious freedom, assault democracy

Half of Israel was up in arms earlier this week, when a tape from a political meeting held by Likud MK Dudi Amsalem leaked to the media. When you read the following selection of his outbursts, you will understand why the media and public reaction was so harsh.

Prime Minister NetanyahuPrime Minister Netanyahu

I describe it as “half of Israel” being up in arms, as beyond mild, implied disassociation by a few other Likud leaders who stated that their styles are different than MK Amsalem’s, the Likud and its partnering parties from the opposition did not disavow the thrust of his words. The only counterattack from Amsalem and his allies came in regard to a threat to sue the journalist who reported on the leak for misrepresenting what he said: The recording showed that Amsalem did not say that “leftists should be restrained and put into a pen”, as was reported – rather, he was referring to the Attorney General’s and State Attorney’s staff…[see below]. Needless to say, the reporter apologized for the misquote and corrected the record, which even without the mistaken interpretation is extremely horrific in Hiddush's view. (Click HERE for the Jerusalem Post article)

Truth be told, I wasn’t overly surprised. Hiddush reported in the past on MK Amsalem’s outrageous pronouncements during his tenure as Chair of the Knesset Internal Affairs Committee (entrusted with deliberations regarding the ‘Kotel Agreement’). Below is a reminder of what we reported at the time, followed by his latest eruption. What is sad is that when Amsalem chose to verbally assault Reform Judaism and Women of the Wall, as he lent his hand to sabotaging the implementation of the ‘Kotel Agreement’, neither Israeli politicians (even on the left and center), nor American Jewish leadership felt that he had crossed a red line and should have been severely rebuked, if not sanctioned. Not only was he not sanctioned, but he was promoted to serve as Minister of Communications.

This reminder is yet another example of the fighting words and violent rhetoric, which is aimed at American Jewry and its overwhelming majority, including its leadership, philanthropists, and luminaries that affiliate with the non-Orthodox movements. In recent newsletters, we have repeatedly described how in the mouths of the ultra-Orthodox politicians, “Reform” has become a general invective term and more. None of that will go away, without struggle. Clearly, this struggle is both for the nature and future of the partnership of Israel and Diaspora Jewry, as well as for the soul of democracy in Israel. How much worse should the rhetoric become on the Israeli side before global Jewish leadership understands that they have a deep stake in the outcome of the struggle for religious freedom and equality, as an essential tenet of a healthy democracy and Jewish unity?


Outbursts from 2016-17

  • “With all due respect to the Americans and American Jews, they cannot be influencing what goes on here. Let them get insulted if they want. There’s nothing wrong with that.”
  • “If we are going to be Reform in the Land of Israel, our children are not going to remain here. We are destroying Judaism, and this cannot be disregarded. The first Reformer was Jesus - he was Jewish, and, by the way, a Talmid Chacham; and Christianity developed from him. We have a tradition of 3,500 years. This is how we conducted ourselves until 100 years ago. This is what Jews walked into the furnace for. What kept us is keeping the rules.”
  • “The Western Wall has been the identity of the Jewish people throughout the generations, and this is how one must treat it. Reform Judaism may be relevant to canning factories or income taxes, but not at the Western Wall, where the heritage of all of Israel is now and forever.”
  • “So what then, we should bring every hallucinating sect that wants to pray at the Western Wall there?”
  • “Were there Reform Jews even 100 years ago? Were there Conservative Jews? Tomorrow, somebody may visit the Western Wall in a bikini and ask for a section of it; tomorrow the Samaritans may also ask for their share, and then the Karaites, and then another such sect...”
  • “They aren't praying, they don't care about prayers. They want to create a provocation so that more American Jews send them all sorts of checks for all sorts of organizations here.”


Most recent outbursts (this week)

  • “From the recording, it is clear that I did not say to jail leftists in cages… What I did say - and I won't apologize for it - is that just like the Left is trampling us now in Knesset committees, we will trample them when we come back to power.”
  • “They are wolves who devour anything that moves, and if we don't restrain them and put them in a pen, they will ultimately eat us again and then our country will sink to the depths. There will not be a Jewish state.”
  • “A crazy, Bolshevik, anti-Zionist gang has taken over the country… Prime Minister Netanyahu is an emissary from God. He is the most important Jewish leader in 100-150 years.”
  • “This story of Begin saying 'There are judges in Jerusalem,' is over. We will run them [the Supreme Court] over.”
  • “We will bring about laws that they will not recover from for 20 years… In order to control, we will delete the word 'justice.' It doesn't exist anymore.”
  • “The Arabs walk around the Knesset as state administrators and say: The Jews are stupid, we also take their money and they also build cities for us…”
  • “We came to Eretz Israel to establish a Jewish state. Democratic, with freedom for everyone, but as a country we have a Jewish character; we are not French, we are not Americans; this is the only country in the world where nationality and religion are the same thing.”
  • “The Knesset wants to enact public transportation on the Sabbath, civil unions, to cancel conversions - these are matters of religious law; we are not Reform Jews. When I hear of ‘reforms’, 'religious reform', it hurts me a lot. If the religion was given by God, how can you change it?”
  • “I see this as the most serious thing. This is practically the elimination of the State of Israel. It will also be the physical elimination. You have no right to exist without the Jewish spirit.”
  • “I feel and appreciate that most of the Likud public sympathizes with my positions.”
  • “The difference between us and the left is only in the tradition of Israel. We stand in the line of fire and justify the ultra-Orthodox demands. The Likud pays all the prices; I see this with great pride…”

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