Daily Alert

06 January 2008

Rabbi Wolpe and Permissible Political Expression

Knesset Members and OU Condemn Rabbi Wolpe's 'Gallows' Remark

26 Tevet 5768, 04 January 08 03:41by Nissan Ratzlav-Katz (IsraelNN.com) Members of Knesset, ministers and a major US-based Orthodox Jewish organization condemned Rabbi Shalom Dov Wolpe on Thursday for his statements likening Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and other ministers to collaborators with the Nazis, saying that by law they should be executed. Rabbi Wolpe made the remarks on Tuesday, at a gathering of activists and supporters of SOS Israel, a rabbinic organization he heads, which focuses on preserving Jewish life throughout the Land of Israel.

During the meeting, Rabbi Wolpe called Olmert a traitor, accusing him and others of aiding the the modern-day "Nazis" in the Palestinian Authority by giving them weapons and releasing terrorist killers from prison. According to Israeli law, the rabbi elaborated, Olmert, Vice Premier Chaim Ramon, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, and others should be "hanged upon the gallows" for collaborating with and aiding "Nazi" terrorists.

"This gathering is intended to make it clear to the public that we are facing a serious danger due to the government's actions," said Rabbi Wolpe on Tuesday. "We have a government that collaborates with the enemy, the Palestinian enemy that wants to destroy Israel. The government of Israel is supplying them with money and weapons, releasing murderers.... We came to warn and discuss how we can prevent this, G-d forbid, holocaust that the government is bringing on us."

Rabbi Wolpe also said that his organization will be calling for IDF soldiers to refuse orders to remove Jews from their homes anywhere in the Land of Israel, if such orders are issued. Also addressing the emergency conference, called in response to US President George W. Bush's upcoming visit to the region, was MK Aryeh Eldad (National Union).

Rabbi Wolpe Clarifies
Rabbi Shalom Dov Wolpe said Thursday that the comments he made at the Tuesday conference were twisted and taken out of context. In calling for the execution of state leaders by legal means, he was not calling for vigilante violence, he explained, but rather calling on the police to implement the law.

Rabbi Wolpe wrote that he believes violence against a fellow Jew is unacceptable, but that law enforcement has the right and responsibility to enforce the law. One of Israel's laws prohibits providing assistance to Nazis, he explained, and Muslim terrorist groups are the Nazis of our day. If the government provides terrorists with aid, he reasoned, then the government has violated the law and its members must suffer the consequences, which include the death penalty. Rabbi Wolpe emphasized that he was calling for any such punishments to be carried out in a legal manner.


'Beyond the Pale'
Minister Yaakov Edery (Kadima) called for an urgent government session to discuss Rabbi Wolpe's speech. He expressed concern that a "calamity" might occur as a result of the rabbi's comments. Members of the leftist Peace Now organization expressed outrage and called for Rabbi Wolpe to be indicted before the Supreme Court. %ad%

Opposition leader MK Binyamin Netanyahu harshly criticized Rabbi Wolpe as well, saying there is no place for violence in a democracy.

MK Chaim Oron (Meretz) went a step further. Noting that SOS Israel was founded by a sect within Chabad-Lubavitch Chassidim, of whom Rabbi Wolpe is one, Oron called for a blanket ban on all Chabad activists entering IDF bases. IDF commanders often grant Chabad volunteers access to military bases and outposts so that the Chassidim can distribute holiday-related items and perform certain religious rituals with soldiers who are interested.

The Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America (OU), the largest Orthodox Jewish umbrella organization in the United States, released a condemnatory statement Thursday. OU President Stephen J. Savitsky and Executive Vice President Rabbi Dr. Tzvi Hersh Weinreb said that Rabbi Wolpe's remarks were "beyond the pale of legitimate democratic protest and have no basis in Jewish law or hashkafa (philosophy)."

The OU leaders added the admonition, "We call upon all God-fearing Jews to act in a manner that brings praise to God, his People, Land and Torah."




Rabbi Wolpe: My Words Were Twisted


(IsraelNN.com) Chabad rabbi and political activist Rabbi Shalom Dov Wolpe said Thursday that a speech he gave at a recent “SOS Israel” event was twisted and taken out of context. When he said that Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, Vice Premier Chaim Ramon, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, and other members of the government would be hung, he was not calling for vigilante violence, he said, but rather calling on the police to implement the law.

Rabbi Wolpe wrote a clarification, explaining that he believes violence against a fellow Jew is unacceptable, but that law enforcement has the right and responsibility to enforce the law. One of Israel’s laws prohibits providing assistance to Nazis, he said, and Muslim terrorist groups are the Nazis of our day. If the government provides terrorists with aid, the government has violated the law, and must suffer the consequences, which include the death penalty. Rabbi Wolpe emphasized that he was calling for any such punishments to be carried out in a legal manner.

Members of the leftist Peace Now group expressed outrage after Rabbi Wolpe’s speech, and called on the Supreme Court to put him on trial. MK Chaim Oron (Meretz) went a step further, saying all activists belonging to the Chabad chassidic group should be banned from IDF bases.


Rabbi Wolpe on declaring independant Judea

Yeshiva World News version

OU Press Release

Shturem's Version (Chabad site)

Chabad.info version (ChaBaD meshchist site)

Shamis Search page on articles involving Rabbi Wolpe

arab exploitation of the story




A recent post at APRPEH contained an underlying theme of needing unity amongst the Orthodox. Then, this story explodes. The OU throws a fit and by doing so, throws ChaBaD on the tracks. Rabbi Wolpe's comments went way too far, granted, but the reaction from the left is to associate all ChaBaD with Rabbi Wolpe. I have included a number of article links above some of which are from ChaBaD news services for greater perspective. So far, I haven't seen any attempts to distance ChaBaD from Rabbi Wolpe's comments.

Much of what Rabbi Wolpe said is not out of bounds contrary to the quote "OU President Stephen J. Savitsky and Executive Vice President Rabbi Dr. Tzvi Hersh Weinreb said that Rabbi Wolpe's remarks were "beyond the pale of legitimate democratic protest and have no basis in Jewish law or hashkafa (philosophy)." ". The calls to investigate the government and the dangerous policy it is pursuing are indeed legitimate political expression. This is especially true given the nature of the Israeli electoral system. Polls consistently show very little public support for Olmert or his policies. Calling for public hangings is clearly not legitimate political expression and for those comments Rabbi Wolpe should be brought to task. His justification that the Arabians are today's Nazi's and using the Nazi execution law as a crutch while pleasing to the emotion as a just analysis is insulting to the intellect in it's over-simplification. Rabbi Wolpe's remarks as was pointed out in a Jpost article may be investigated for incitement. The Israeli anti-Jews always looking for a pretext to make reference to the Rabin assassination have flipped in conniptions in the wake of Rabbi Wolpe's unfortunate comments. Why not jump at the chance to garner support for their disengagement policy of self-destruction by shaming the opposition into the belief that any and all debate will be illegitimately linked to Rabbi Wolpe. Why not squelch the voice of and weaken the power of the nationalists when the opportunity arises? And what is all this anti-Semitic talk libeling all of ChaBaD due to the comments of one Rabbi affiliated with ChaBaD? Who could stretch to such ridiculous lengths without having true anti-religious feelings? But is Rabbi Wolpe alone?

MK Aryeh Eldad of the National Union/NRP has called for civil disobedience to protest the halt of construction in east Jerusalem.
“These days we hear that a ministerial committee is gathering to redefine the term ‘blood on their hands’,” Eldad continued, “And I say – there is blood on the hands of Olmert and members of his government, the blood of these precious soldiers are on the hands of those who released terrorists, gave them weapons and armored vehicles as goodwill gestures!” MK Eldad Calls for Civil Disobedience .


Others have come close to suggesting Olmert's actions are treasonous for the same reason: Shiloh Musings running Ruth Matar of WIG coming close to Rabbi Wolpe's views on traitors. So why focus only on Rabbi Wolpe? Could it be the unpopularity of his brand of ChaBaD? Didn't he clarify his statement thereby reinforcing the rule of law and reiterating his belief of not committing "violence against a fellow Jew". It seems that Rabbi Wolpe is on more solid ground than MK Eldad?

And maybe in an unexpected way, Rabbi Wolpe and MK Eldad are not too far off the reservation.

Olmert is Warned: 'Talk About Jerusalem - Break the Law'
28 Tevet 5768, 06 January 08 07:53by Hillel Fendel
(IsraelNN.com) Two Jerusalem organizations have sent a letter to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert, reminding him that discussions with US President Bush or PA Chairman Abbas regarding a possible division of Jerusalem are in violation of Israeli law.
A prominent lawyer for the Victims of Arab Terror (VAT) and Twenty-Four Shifts organizations penned the letter, warning Olmert that if he does not announce an end to all talks over the future of Jerusalem, he will be considered in violation of the law.
In his letter, Attorney Baruch Ben-Yosef makes the point that Clauses 5 and 6 of one of Israel's cardinal laws - Basic Law: Jerusalem, Capital of Israel - mean that Jerusalem's status as the united and sole capital of Israel may not be compromised.
The first clause of the law in question, passed in 1980 under Prime Minister Menachem Begin and President Yitzchak Navon, states, "Jerusalem, whole and united, is the capital of Israel." Clause 5 stipulates the precise area of Jerusalem, while Clause 6 states, "No authorities relating to the area of Jerusalem and that is in the legal purview of the State of Israel or the Municipality of Jerusalem shall be transferred to any foreign political or governmental element, whether permanently or for a set period."
Clause 7 states that Clauses and 5 and 6 may not be changed except if another Basic Law is accepted by the majority of the Knesset.
The Warning to Olmert
"According to frequently-published statements by you and some of the ministers in your government," the letter to Olmert states, "you intend to negotiate with Israel's enemies - including Mr. Abu Mazen, the Chairman of the Palestinian Authority - regarding the re-division of Jerusalem and the ceding of parts of the city - in violation of Clauses 5 and 6 of this law."
"The very mention of dividing the city and giving up parts of it, while the Basic Law on Jerusalem is still in effect and/or Clauses 5-6 have not been nullified, is a violation of the Basic Law. If you wish to hold negotiations with a foreign element, and especially with an enemy of Israel such as Abu Mazen, then you must act in accordance with the law's Clause 7 - i.e., nullifying and/or changing [Clauses 5 and 6] via a majority vote in the Knesset."
Attorney Ben-Yosef explains why his warning is timely: "Given that you and/or ministers in your government are liable to wage such negotiations during and after the visit of US President Bush, you are hereby required to declare immediately that you will observe the Basic Law and that you will not wage any negotiations over the future of Jerusalem while the above law and/or its clauses are still in effect."
"If by next Sunday, the 28th of Tevet 5768 (January 6), I do not receive this declaration by return email, my clients will act immediately to obtain a court order preventing you from waging such negotiations."

more: Caroline Glick

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