Thursday, July 30, 2020

Determinedly Enabling Our Enemies

Is history repeating itself?

On Tisha B'Av, we mourn the destruction of the Temple and Jerusalem by the Romans. The Talmud states that this tragedy happened due to sinat chinam, baseless hatred among the Jews. That's popularly taken today to refer to things such as lashon hara (and then wielded to discourage any criticism which makes one feel uncomfortable).

But the sinat chinam being described is not an abstract sin; rather, it was some very real and very terrible actions taking place among the Jews of that period, which assisted their enemies. There was the most terrible infighting, with factions murdering each other, thereby giving a tremendous gift to the Romans. While the Jews of Jerusalem had considerable food stores to withstand the siege, some of them burned it all, making the Roman army's job all the easier and the death toll all the greater.

Today, two thousand years later, we still have Jews enabling our enemies. There are people trying to force Israel to give power to those sworn to its destruction. Peter Beinart urges for the State of Israel to be dismantled, and using lies and distortions to build his case. Seth Rogen tells the press (who are thrilled to hear it) that Israel is a mistake.

And even within the ranks of Orthodox rabbis, we have people enabling our enemies.

In the previous post, A Gift To Antisemites, I highlighted the shocking libel issued by Rabbi Yaron Reuven against the Jewish People. He claimed that Hitler had good reason to hate the Jews, because all the moral degeneracy of Germany was being run by the Jews, and they also destroyed the economy by greedily charging high interest. Reuven's video has naturally been eagerly seized upon by antisemites, to successfully prove to people that even rabbis admit that Jews ruin their host countries.

Naturally, after reading my post, people were suitably outraged. Criticism of Reuven, already building as a result of his previous hateful videos, is reaching new levels. You'd expect that having been exposed for doing such a terrible thing, Reuven would frantically backtrack.

But no. Instead, he's doubled down. 

His latest video, addressing the storm over his Hitler justifications, is titled "Baruch HaShem Even AntiSemites Learning Torah From Rabbi Reuven." He begins by finding humor in the entire matter, thrilled that his material is receiving hundreds of thousands of views, and joking about the great publicity. Ah yes, it's so funny!

Then, he says, "joking aside," he sees it as being a tremendous thing that his video attracted such attention among non-Jews. And he launches into a lengthy explanation of how it's important for non-Jews to see that we are willing to call out wrongdoing among our own.

I fear that many people are going to be fooled by this.

Yes, he is absolutely correct that it's important for us to call out wrongdoing among our own. We mustn't sweep things under the carpet. We must actively call out fraudsters and molesters and all kinds of crimes. This is what the Prophets did, and it's what we need to do.

But this is not what Reuven did! Instead, he fabricated crimes!

Reuven claimed that the morally degenerate clubs of Berlin "were all run by Jewish people." No, they weren't! To be sure, some of them were. And Jews may even have been over-represented in this area. But that would be just as Jews were over-represented in many areas. And they certainly weren't running "all" or even most such clubs! That was propaganda, spread by antisemitic opponents of the Weimar Republic.

Even more problematically, Reuven claimed that it's "absolutely true history" that the Jews destroyed the German economy with their financial greed. No, it isn't! Again, see this article for the real explanation of why the German economy collapsed, and how the Nazis manipulated this against the Jews. It's a lie - and one with devastating consequences. If you're making a video, to be shown on YouTube and available to the entire world, you have to be absolutely accurate in what you accuse the Jews of, when you're doing something as insane as trying to justify Hitler's claims!

Reuven is also buying into, and thereby legitimizing, another aspect of Nazi and general antisemitic propaganda. He is presenting the approach that Hitler hated the Jews because of the Jews' crimes. But in fact the opposite is true: it was because Hitler hated the Jews that he fabricated these crimes.

We can and should tolerate a range of views. But when they are extreme to the point of encouraging hatred and inciting violence towards mainstream rabbis, and providing libels to our enemies, this is far beyond the pale. Yaron Reuven must not be representing Judaism.

There is already some progress in this regard. Torah Anytime has removed his videos (unfortunately they have not yet done so for the videos of Rabbi Yosef Mizrachi). The Forward just published an excellent article, "Alarmed by 'death threat' video, Orthodox Jews try to de-platform fiery 'folk preachers'." The pressure is mounting.

But we need to do much more. We need to try to get YouTube and Facebook to delete the videos and the accounts of these inciters. We need to stop Reuven from drawing legitimacy from the Rabbinical Alliance of America, a.k.a. Igud HaRabonim of America (the more religiously right-wing alternative to the RCA). After I exerted some pressure, his latest video now includes a brief disclaimer stating that it does not represent the views of the RAA. But this follows a video clip of the RAA logo, and a certificate from the RAA announcing that Rabbi Yaron Reuven is a respected member in good standing!

As a prominent rabbi wrote to me in astonishment: "The Igud purports to be the organization for solid, yeshiva- and chassidish- trained rabbanim, organized to protect the banner of authentic Torah. One would think that they would rush to purge themselves of a moron doing as much damage to Torah and to Jews as Yaron Reuven." But when I tried to tell this to my contacts at the RAA, I got nowhere. I was told that the organization "prides itself on having a lot of tolerance for diverse opinions," and that they "only draw the line at members committing crimes or being insufficiently Orthodox." Not for producing videos stating that prominent centrist rabbis are resha'im who deserve execution, or stating that Hitler had good reasons for hating the Jews.

Perhaps, this Tisha B'Av, instead of just making ourselves feel fulfilled by mourning the consequences of the terrible and dangerous behavior of some Jews two thousand years, we can actually do something about the terrible and dangerous behavior of some Jews today. On the RAA website, there is a list of rabbis and executive leaders of the organization. I urge people to contact them.

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  1. "It was because Hitler hated the Jews that he fabricated these crimes."
    Yes! And anyone with even a bit of knowledge of WWII would know that Hitler was against the Jews because of what they represented. Hitler was against Judeo-Christian values rooted in Judaism. He despised the moral conscious. This was his war.
    Reuven is an idiot and he's no better than the molesters, criminals and gay club owners etc that he himself speaks against. In fact he's much worse for justifying Hitlers atrocities, which in case he forgot resulted in the extinction of Torah Jewry in Europe. Not only is he despised by his Jewish brethren like the kappos in the camps he would have also been despised by Hitler for being a Jew even if he has a bogus "holier than thou" moral conscious.

  2. Incitement to violence is a crime. Their videos are directly inciting people to violence against what they define as "heresy." That should be sufficient grounds to get them expelled from the organization.

  3. Everything Reuven says is factually true but exaggerated and taken out of context. Yes, Jews had commited all those acts against morality and the German nation, but so did the Germans themselves, who greatly outnumbered the Jews. Because of the Jews' superior ability they were often the leaders and stood out. This created a disproportionate perception of their true numbers. There are no Jews in Sweden and there were hardly any in Germany until recently, but these nations had taken the course of the national destruction on their own.

    A speech of R. Ovadia Yossef, where he talks about the goyim being created for the purpose of serving the Jews, is making rounds on the anti-semitic sites. Many rabbies say similar things and have no idea what's appropriate. How many preached that corona would only affect the goyim? How many gloated in the high deaths levels of China and Italy? It's not that they shouldn't be saying it, they shouldn't be thinking this way. But this is their interpretation of Judaism. Do you expect people to like this?

    I think that just like some nations repented their past anti-semitic actions and acknowledged their responsibility, we should acknowledge our responsibility. Not going to happen though.


  4. R Natan, You may not be his biggest fan, nor he yours, but have you reached out to R Gil Student at the RAA? He is knowledgeable, worldly, and in his way reasonable. Maybe he could be of help.

    1. Wow. Hard to believe Gil Student is part of RAA. Quite surprising.

    2. Moish.. it surprising at all. My first though was "Hahaha! I knew it." He's a pure right winger religiously who knows how to talk 'liberal-speak.'

    3. What's with this hatred of R. Student for belonging to the RAA? Hundreds of normal rabbis belong to it. R. Student is most certainly not far right-wing. He's moderate right-wing, at best.

  5. I have been exploring Judaism for a couple of years now. I’ve listened to countless hours of lectures from Rabbis Y.Y. Jacobsen, Mendel Kaplan, Manis Friedman, Moishe New, Elimelech Silberberg, Y.B. Gordon and countless others. I’m inspired and filled with joy when listening to them and studying Torah. Never once did I have feelings of fear, hate, contempt, hopelessness, or depression. UNTIL... I listened to a few of Reuvens lectures. Honestly, I just feel a deep sense of sorrow now. I don’t even want to talk with my local Rabbi about conversion if this is the way a Jew (Reuven, Mizrachi) acts towards his fellow Jew.

    1. Can I make a suggestion? Don't listen to what G-d's self-appointed interpreters (of any religion) have to say. Instead, read the original texts and trust your own response and interpretation. Maybe by direct interactions you can find a more direct and honest connection.

      Then afterwards you can look at the interpreters and see which of them you think got it right.

    2. Well, look at it this way: Jews, like all of mankind, aren't perfect. Jews strive for perfection, but along the way there are pitfalls. Some fall further down than others. But there's still hope for change and improvement.

  6. “Then afterwards you can look at the interpreters and see which of them you think got it right.”

    That’s exactly what delusional “Rabbi” Reuven is doing. He looks at interpreters that confirm his bias that they’re the ones that got it right. The ones that don’t agree with Reuven obviously got it wrong.
    Of course this is all unfalsifiable claptrap.
    If you desire a Satmar annihilation of Israel, you’ll identify the interpreters that buttress your designs.
    If you insist that Moshiach is currently present somewhere on this planet awaiting our sincere supplication for his reappearance, you’ll find an interpreter to confirm that belief.
    If you want to be part of a religion that authorises you to refrain from earning a living to support your family, you’ll find a notable interpreter for that.
    The list goes on and on. I can cite a dozen more legitimised interpretative beliefs that confirm whatever unfalsifiable theological agenda that many orthodox/chareidi societies wish to institutionalise.
    What they have in common is that they construct a theology based on unfalsifiable premises.
    What assurance do you have that all these interpreters should be given any credence? Which one is right and which one is wrong? Perhaps they’re all wrong.

    1. Two answers:
      1. Please note that Rav Aharon Lichtenstein z"l felt that people didn't take the chiyuv of 'Aseh Lecha rav" seriously enough. Effectively, he pointed out, by choosing a rav you are choosing an interpretation of the Torah. That is your responsibility as a Jew and therefore you must take it seriously.
      2. The best that any of us can do is to try to assess seriously the sources being aware of our ideological, cultural or other biases. We can't succeed. But the difference between a genuine search for authenticity and a cherry picking approach to confirm your own opinions is to be found in our own personal mind and conscience. You know if you are searching for truth. Similarly you know if you are only looking to have your opinions verified.
      Thus, a direct honest reading of the sources, sans interpreters, is a good place to start.

    2. And of course there Will always be outliers and crazy people like satmar of today and mizrachi. But I'm assuming that Outsider is smart enough to spot a crazy person when he sees one.
      More importantly, I'm assuming that after reading the sources it will become apparent just how off the beaten track the extremists have strayed.

    3. Same applies to within various Muslim sects or denominations. Ditto Christians. Unlike science religion has no way out of the dilemma. ACJA

    4. It applies to all knowledge. Science also faces epistemological challenges of this type.
      We do the best we can.

  7. Amazing. Antisemites have a new recruit. "Rabbi" Yaron Reuven. This means that they no longer have to spout the nonsense. An Orthodox Rabbi can do it for them!

    The thing I just cannot understand and will never understand is how much Reuven is placing Nazis, the worst of humanity, on such a high pedestal. By simplistically suggesting that Jews were the cause of all defects in post-WW1 Germany is reprehensible. Germany suffered because they lost the war. In doing so, he is unconsciously suggesting the Nazis more morally superior!

    How can the RAA keep him on the rules is beyond me.

  8. "Seth Rogen tells the press (who are thrilled to hear it) that Israel is a mistake." Ok. Everyone should write to the RAA website and boycott Seth Rogen. Don't take it personally, Seth.

  9. Why would a Rabbi blame the Jews for Shoah ?Shoah presents a major challenge to Judaism and the Lord. An excuse is made for the Lord in that the Jews did not follow Judaism or the Jew’s deserve it for some other reason. Second, it is a fear tactic to spread Judaism. Keep the religion or the Lord will send somebody to punish. ACJA

  10. Incredible. Reuven's Tisha B'Av shiur today is titled "Stop Hating Each Other." And it's all about why the 14 rabbis in the list are reshaim that people have to hate.

    1. And your own Tisha B'av post also suffered from a similar lack of grace, objectivity, or detachment from your narrow personal concerns.

    2. Hat, why can't you be as specific as as RDNS was?

    3. Oh I see that later you were at least specific

  11. NooneinparticularJuly 31, 2020 at 10:51 AM

    what great criteria: "only draw the line at members committing crimes or being insufficiently Orthodox"

    In other words, spouting hatred, stupidity and incitement is OK, but don't let me catch you doubting the words of the gedolim.

    Someone should speak to the people funding this organization

    1. No, I don't think that they would kick someone out for not following the Gedolim.

  12. You just libeled a journalist on the internet. The link you posted doesn't asset any Beinart told any lies. [The claims of distortion it does make are incredibly ropy and subjective, but that isn't libelous.] In accusing someone of telling lies, you told a lie.

    The only sorts of online extremism you seem to oppose seem to be those that don't demand introspection, change and hard work on your own part.

    If you think Tisha B'Av is about all the things people who are not part of your immediate clan should be doing differently, you haven't been doing it right.

  13. These two individuals are clearly somewhat psychopathic and certainly should not be allowed to publicse their material by the RAA, YouTube or Facebook. However, I would question whether making a public campaign against them is effective - it may well be better to ignore them rather than giving them further publicity.
    Searching for Raed Majali on google only led me to this blog - and the material spread by this individual is all decidedly moronic.

  14. there’s no sinas chinam among the Jews. Don’t let anyone tell you that. The sinas chinam the Gemara talks about means the causeless hatred of the type that comes from Avneri, the representative of the homosexuals in the Knesses today. He hates decent Jews. The communists there too, or the Mapai, they hate the Jews. That’s the sinas chinam – but decent Jews don’t have sinas chinam.

    In the times of the Beis Hamikdash it wasn’t Shamai and Hillel and their talmidim who had sinas chinam. It wasn’t the Pharisees and the multitudes of the frum Jews who were their followers, who were the problem. The sinas chinam was from the Tzedukim and the Notzrim. They hated the sages and the frum Jews who sided with the sages. And it was because they were Jews, it was their sinas chinam for which the Jewish nation suffered. I understand that even some well-meaning writers and speakers have attempted to to apply the accusation of baseless hatred to the frum Jews at the time of the churban, but it’s a serious error.

    1. Homosexuals were born that way, and only indecent, irrational, or ignorant Jews attach any culpability to sexual orientation.

  15. It is said אין אדם רואה נגעי עצמו and that has been very evident in this series of posts. First you your urge censorship on someone, despite having complained for years when it happened to you. Now you attack someone for speaking publicly of Jewish ills, despite your own very public blogging of numerous charedi rabbis accused or indicted of this and that. It is painfully obvious to readers - though not to you, evidently - that your personal issues are coloring your judgment.

    Here is my suggestion: The question of how, and to what extent, we Jews should acknowledge responsibility, or "own", any part of anti semitism, is a good one. Should it be done publicly, privately? Regularly, or never? To what extent? Does it thereby absolve anti-semites of crimes against us? [that one is easy - NO]. What exactly did chazal mean in saying והיה כאשר תריד ופרקת עולו מעל צאואריו? What form of Jewish "rebellion" did they mean - going against social norms? Prominence at the expense of the natives? All of these are good questions. Your blog can make a good contribution to these important questions. Instead of wasting your considerable energies on nobodies, put it into writing an essay. You can even call it a "monograph" :-)

    Good Shabbos, Shabbat Shalom

    1. "First you your urge censorship on someone, despite having complained for years when it happened to you." Nope, never complained that it is wrong to condemn or even ban someone. Just that the reasons for banning me were invalid. How on earth does that make it wrong for me to want to ban someone for valid reasons?

      "Now you attack someone for speaking publicly of Jewish ills." Nope. I am attacking someone for speaking publicly with lies about Jewish ills which didn't actually exist.

    2. So it all comes down to "valid reasons". Brilliant. So we accomplish absolutely nothing, and your post is essentially worthless, because no one can agree on what is valid and what isn't. The whole point is that censorship is wrong, *regardless* of whether the cause is valid or not. It is just amazing how incapable you are of shifting your paradigms.

  16. I hesitated to e-mail the RAA regarding his disgusting statements but after doubling down on them as a grandchild of 4 holocaust survivors an effort had to be done. Under no conditions should anyone that identifies a Jew should be providing justifications for the Nazi's heinous actions. It was and still is arguably the worst genocide in recorded history, there is literally no justification for that, I don't care what any book says. Pitiful and disgusting for any self-respecting jew to figure out justifications for Hitler. You want to think about reasons gesundheit, don't put it on the internet and it's not our job to figure out why God bring calamities to mankind there's a whole sefer in Tanach (Iyov) that talks about how that's a tenuous undertaking at best. Don't feed coals to stake the dormant anti-semitic flames, keep it to yourself or talk about it with confidants do NOT go speaking about it in public.

  17. “And of course there Will always be outliers and crazy people like satmar of today and Mizrachi “
    @Fozziebear 8:13 AM,

    I’ve seen an estimate of Satmar societies being 65 - 75,000 strong. That’s quite a sizeable outlier. I’ll agree with your opinion that these folks are crazies. But they’re more than just crazy. They’re dangerous. You’re aware of their hatred for Israel and their defense of pedophelia. Ever see the 2016 video surreptitiously hidden in the ceiling of the Satmar principal’s office as he molests a young boy. Satmar defends it as nothing more than fatherly love. That’s quite a large % of Orthodoxy. Who are you to decide who is an outlier? Why Satmar and Mizrachi and not Rav Lichtenstein?
    That’s the problem with an unfalsifiable interpretative theology. As the phrase goes: History is written by the winner. And the winner will be those who attract the most adherents, It might be Rav Lichtenstein, or it might be Satmar or Mizrachi.

  18. The Rabbinical Alliance does not provide the emails of its heads. There is only a general email address. Could you perhaps provide the leaders' emails. Thanks.

  19. This is what I wrote to the organization:
    I have read disturbing reports that Rabbi Ron Reuven, a member of your organization, has publicized videos backing the Nazi claim that Jews were responsible for Germany's pre-war immorality and financial collapse and I have viewed the videos.
    The videos begin with notifications that he belongs to your group.
    Could you please do something to stop this defaming of the Jewish people by a member of your organization! A disclaimer in the rabbi's second video that it does not express your group's opinion is not enough. People still see that he has remained a member of good standing in your organization despite his scurrilous and dangerous claims.

  20. Didn't Hitler write in "Mein Kampf" that he hated the Jews because they were Communists?

  21. "He claimed that Hitler had good reason to hate the Jews"
    he is by G-d not the only one and not the first to ally himself with Hitler:
    David Sheen has subtitled the Israeli Channel 13 coverage concerning the rabbis at the Eli military-preperatory college, who endorse Hitler and the Nazi ideology (only they think it should be applied in Jewish favor against non-Jews).
    It is inportant to emphasize, as is also noted in the coverage: this is not a fringe, these things have been repeated for years, these people are now connected to the future government, to the education ministry no less.
    David Sheen

    Last night Channel 13 news revealed recordings of instructors at a top Israeli religious academy. In the first half, the head of the seminary pines for the return of slavery – said to be the natural order – because Arabs have “genetic problems” and thus they “want to be under occupation”. In the second half, a seminary instructor explains that Hitler was “most righteous” and Nazi ideology was internally consistent, moral, and a cure for Jews whose disease is that they don’t immigrate to Israel. Furthermore, he says, the REAL Holocaust is secularism, pluralism and humanism. These remarks were no slips of the tongue, they were repeated over and over for years, accurately reflecting the agenda of the Jewish Home / Kahane coalition whose leader, the seminary’s patron rabbi, is set to be Israel’s new Education Minister. Welcome to my world.

  22. 4 men arrested for hanging ‘Hitler Was Right’ banner on bridge in Arizona

    I’m beginning to think some action needs to be taken against Reuven.


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