Two of the largest Orthodox Jewish organizations in the US condemned on Wednesday a group of right-wing nationalist Israeli rabbis who compared US Secretary of State John Kerry to villains of the Jewish tradition.
US Secretary of State John Kerry’s efforts to produce an Israeli-Palestinian peace agreement and reach a two-state solution would result in “severe Heavenly punishment,” rabbis from two group, SOS Israel and the Committee to Save the Land and People of Israel, wrote this week in an open letter to the top American diplomat.
“Your incessant efforts to expropriate integral parts of our Holy Land and hand them over to Abbas’s terrorist gang amount to a declaration of war against the Creator and Ruler of the universe,” the rabbis wrote, and compared Kerry to the Persian Haman, who plotted a genocide against the Jews of the Persian Empire, and Nebuchadnezer and Titus, who each destroyed, respectively, the first and second Jewish Temples in Jerusalem.
The Rabbinical Council of America, the largest American Orthodox Jewish rabbinical organization, and the Orthodox Union, the largest Orthodox Jewish synagogue umbrella group in the US, issued a joint statement criticizing the “extreme and offensive rhetoric” in the Israeli rabbis’ letter.
“These rabbis… seem to arrogate to themselves unusual insight into the desires of the Almighty,” the statement read.
“We, the leadership of the RCA and the OU, repudiate this letter and the rhetoric they have deployed. While the people of Israel and Jews around the world may properly possess serious concerns about proposals Secretary Kerry is putting forth, such concerns must only be expressed with civility and on the substance of the issues, not degenerating into personal venom and threats.”
The letter was signed by Gedalya Axelrod, emeritus head of the Haifa Rabbinic Court; Yisrael Ariel, chairman of the Temple Institute; Ben Tziyon Grossman, a rabbi in Migdal Haemek; Shalom Dov Wolpo, dean of the Institute for the Complete Code of Maimonides; and Yigal Pizam, head of the Yeshiva of Kiryat Shmuel. The rabbis said they represent “hundreds of other rabbis in Israel and around the world.”
The RCA and OU stressed that they do not believe there is any reason to question the intentions of Kerry or other Obama administration officials, and said that their efforts to achieve peace were meant to provide support for the “long term security and welfare of Israel, as well as the United States.”
“The letter of the Committee to Save the Land and People of Israel may represent the views of its signators (sic); it does not represent ours,” the RCA and OU statement concluded.