The secular Jewish prophetic

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Rabbi Dow Marmur, emeritus at Beth Shalom synagogue writes a regular column in The Toronto Star. The rebbe has had a long run with this gig and has run out of steam. His writing appeared to be a sop to the large Toronto Jewish community. There is no equivalent Palestinian voice though recently other columnists like Haroon Siddiqui, Tony Burman and Rick Salutin have penned excellent articles on Israel. At least the Star has attempted to allow some diverse thinking on the subject.

The Globe allows the recently named ambassador Bercovici  to flog her pure Zionist opinions and the National Post  gives right wing priest Raymond De Sousa free rein to pontificate on church and state. Fr De Sousa has strong links with the Tory Party and sits on the Centre for Jewish and israel Affairs  He recently was on Harper’s Magical Mystery Tour to Israel, the one that included 21 rabbis. He echoes PM Harper’s view of the Middle East,

Back to Rabbi Marmur who seems to skate around the Palestinian elephant in the room. Her lives in israel half time and has family there so like the 21 rabbis he is not counted among the prophetic wing of contemporary Judaism His column never ventures that far. He would be one brave rabbi to do so but there are such people among us. They have their model in the life and teaching of Toronto rabbi Reuben Slonim (d.2000) who simply could not abide the abuse of human rights he witnessed in his 2 trips to the Holy Land. All this is detailed in his stunning biography  To Kill a Rabbi (1987).

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Prophets whatever their location or their  their faith community are exceedingly rare. I do have some sympathy for these brave believers.they have families and must dance to the tune of local board members.

I once gave a talk in a historic shul on the topic,”Can secular Jews carry the Torah”. It was well received—until I mentioned that “Arab lover” Reuben  Slonim. Then the emeritus reb went ballistic and accused me of being “just like Slonim-an idealist”!

Anyway before I evidence the secular Jewish prophetic, let me briefly expound on Harper’s Magical Mystery Tour of israel—widely panned by most observers. It was reported last week that the Tories have received over 1,000 letters disagreeing with their biased stance on israel. There is no doubt that he is out of synch with mosrt Canadians, and he is out of synch with Canadian musicians every time he sings a Beatle song. He is a sole man not a soul man.

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When I saw him croon Hey Jude to Israeli PM  I cringed with embarrassment. He could have no inkling that JUDE is what the Nazis called Jews. But then this man is tone deaf to Palestinian suffering so we do not expect much from his crooning and his distance from Judaica.

Two letters from Jewish critics today. the prophetic is alive—but it’s obviously  passing the synagogue

Re: Harper shows you don’t have to be Jewish to be a Zionist, column, Opinion Jan. 20

Harper shows you don’t have to be Jewish to be a Zionist, column, Opinion Jan. 20

What universe is Dow Marmur living in? He applauds Ambassador Vivian Bercovici for describing Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu as “a respected leader who has enhanced national security, immeasurably,” and Stephen Harper for his “deep commitment to Israel that is not tainted by expediency or political opportunism.”

Far from being “respected,” Netanyahu is roundly criticized by almost all national leaders (except our own of course) for his Fortress Israel mentality, his expansion of Israeli settlements on Palestinian land, and his refusal to engage in any meaningful peace process — all of which have substantially decreased national security. And if Harper really is committed to Israel (i.e., to its right-wing government) because he’s a Christian Zionist, I fear for us all.

As Marmur states, Christian Zionism holds that “Jesus’ Second Coming is contingent upon the Jews returning to their homeland.” When all the Jews are “returned,” then the Rapture can begin. Well, thank you very much. Israel is not my homeland and I don’t want to be “returned” anywhere, let alone be taken up in the Rapture.

Zionism, whether Jewish or Christian, and whatever its historical legitimacy, has become a justification for the occupation of Palestinian land and the domination of one people by another. I would remind Rabbi Marmur of the words of Deuteronomy: “Justice, justice, must you pursue in order to inherit the land that the Lord has given you.” Can Israel seriously claim to have earned this right?

Stephen K. Levine, Professor Emeritus, York University

Rabbi Marmur twice questions “being naive.” Indeed his willful naivité is amazing.

He partially cites the 1917 Balfour Declaration, ignoring its call for a Jewish “national home” in Palestine not a Jewish state, omitting its warning “that nothing shall be done which may prejudice the civil and religious rights of existing non-Jewish communities in Palestine,” and obfuscating its predating the League of Nations formally awarding the Palestine Mandate to Britain by several years.

However, his deliberate omission of the post-Second Coming Christian Zionist agenda requiring Jews to convert to Christianity or die goes way beyond mere naivité. Beware Harper!

Bernard Katz, Toronto

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