by Yosef Ben Tzion (Joel Busner) – March 2003
Dear Mr. P,
I am writing you this letter publicly in order to respond to you and your peers collectively.
My Hebrew name is Yosef Ben Tzion and my English name is Joel Busner. I am not a Hareidi. My parents are not Sephardic. I am not a rabbi. Nor do I have a Masters degree in Political Science. In no way am I an intellectual. I can’t speak to 6 audiences in 8 languages at the same time. I didn’t vote for Shas nor did I vote for United Torah Judaism.
I am however, a Jew. A Jew who was arrested on a few occasions for participating in violent demonstrations in Canada in the early 1980s against the oppressive Soviet Government in order to free my Jewish brothers and sisters — one who was named Anatoly Sharansky. I am the same Jew who took some police abuse from New York’s Finest in the early 1990s while demonstrating against the Syrian dictatorship government of Hafez Assad of cursed memory in order to free more of my brothers and sisters from Syria.
I am a Jew who might be mistakenly accused of being a ‘Datti Leumi’ (National Religious). You see I wear a knitted kippa and modern clothes most of the time. But, sometimes I wear a black leather cab driver’s cap. Sometimes when the mood hits me, I wear a black suit and white shirt. Don’t let them fool you however: Clothes really don’t make the man.
My friends and I run an organization called B’Ahavat Yisrael. We have numerous members from many diverse backgrounds. Some are Hareidim. Some are Datti Leumi. Some are Ashkenazic. Some are Sephardic. Some are traditional. Some are basically non–observant. All of them are Jews. When we assist terror victims, we don’t ask if they are religious or non–religious. When we go out to the Shomron to donate food and supplies to volunteer guards and to distribute sandwiches to soldiers in the field, we don’t ask them about the length of their tzizit. We go to the aid of Jews. Except for instances of pikuach nefesh or Shabbat programs, the organization is otherwise closed on Shabbat. The interesting thing is that none of our members seem to mind. And there lies the problem with many in the so–called National Religious leadership.
The NRP and the National Union (with ‘reservations’) have joined the coalition government of Ariel Sharon’s Likud party and Tommy ‘Archie Bunker’ Lapid’s Shinui party. You claim that the Hareidi parties don’t get it and neither does the Labor party. First, let’s be honest. Shas and the UTJ weren’t offered at all to be in the coalition. You claim, “The positions of Shas and UTJ do not resonate with Jewish youth who question their own identity and place in society.” This you claim is what brought Shinui to 15 seats from 6. Nonsense! Did you take into account the 10 seats that Labor and Meretz lost collectively? Did you take into account that the nationalist and religious vote was a whopping 70 seats? Do you realize if there were no Arabs allowed to vote it would be closer to 80 seats? Do you realize that about a 1/3 of the legal–aged voters didn’t vote in a country where you are given the day off, have 15 hours to vote, and don’t have to register in advance as is done in the US? What influence did Shas and UTJ have on the education system? None! How many anti–religious and anti–nationalist journalists are there writing for Ha’aretz, Maariv and Yediot Achronot? I would guess the majority of them. How many programs and commercials on television portray youths engaging in lewd behavior? Too many! I’ve lost count of the amount of times I had to turn off my TV because the bias for the anti–religious and anti–nationalist left was just too much to stomach. How many kids in 7th grade in Israel have condom advertisements posted in front of their faces every morning? The amount of honest, real Jewish history and Judaism taught in Israeli schools is pitiful. The Supreme Court time and time again takes anti–Jewish and anti–Nationalist positions in their verdicts. Sure there are those amongst Hareidi circles who don’t portray a good example of what a religious Jew should be like. However, that pales by comparison to all of the above hatred and propaganda being heaped on the innocent heads of ‘our’ Israeli youth.
Pragmatic is a fine political science catch phrase. “Be pragmatic”. The Israeli left and some from the right have had a similar one of their own for the last several years: “Be realistic”. You think that the NRP was being pragmatic for the good of the country? Really. Let’s look at some facts:
Since coming to power in the last few days, the new Minister of Interior Avraham Poraz of Shinui has announced that he will turn around all that outgoing Shas minister Eli Yishai implemented during his tenure. He immediately granted a 3–year residency to the non–Jewish mother of a terror victim. He is now going to propose legislation in order to facilitate the marriages of Jews to non–Jews in Israel. He is going to take a ‘humanistic’ approach to the family reunification for Arabs living inside pre ’67 Israel who wish to marry Arabs of the territories. How nice! And of course not a word said about all of our tax money to pay for these steps that are a guarantee to further dilute the Jewish State. All of this in 3 days! Of course you can bet on Mr. Poraz to move quickly in order to do Mr. Sharansky’s bidding by allowing more and more non–Jews to make aliya from the former Soviet Union, again at our expense. Mr. Lapid, as the new Minister of Justice issued his great first statement saying that he will not support a constitution that supercedes the Supreme Court. Another form of democracy, Israeli style.
The above is since the election. Below are some facts before the election:
—During the election campaign, it was the Shinui party leadership along with their activists who did all in their power to force shopping malls to open on Shabbat.
—Before he entered politics, Mr. Lapid as a journalist employed by the State of Israel (your tax money), continuously harangued the Hareidi establishment as parasites and other niceties.
—Last year, Lapid wrote a column for a major Florida newspaper telling North American religious Jews that Israel doesn’t need more of them. He also used the same column to push his love for public pork stores and mixed marriages between Russian Jews and Gentiles.
—2 weeks ago Mr. Lapid stated that the appointment of a Hareidi to be mayor of Jerusalem was the ultimate coercion. Tell me, does that mean that all secular mayors of large Israeli cities are also guilty of coercion?
—A quote from a Modiin newspaper from Yosef Yirmiyahu, an attorney who chairs the Shinui headquarters in that region: “The great failure which threatens the existence of the Zionist entity as a Jewish Democracy is its cowering submission to the Orthodox establishment”. And: “2,500,000 Jews (does he maybe mean Hareidim, Datti Leumi and perhaps traditional Sephardim?) who support religious coercion pose a threat to the state. They’ve established strong institutions in Israel where everything is kosher so that they can advance their objectives.They work for religious coercion, greater privileges for their people living on public funds and horribly exploiting their rights. This reality poses a real danger and an immediate threat to the continued existence of the Jewish State. Logic dictates the necessity of halting this monster before it brings Jewish Zionism to its knees” (This from a party who is for a Palestinian state and for giving up virtually all of Yesha!). Of course Attorney Yirmiyahu doesn’t seem to mind the billions that were used to bail out the bankrupt kibbutzim as well as the huge variety of government supported programs (theaters, etc) that are very secular and/or anti religious in general.
I am not a chasid of Rav Mordechai Eliyahu shlita. I respect him very much. I know that when it was convenient for the NRP to put his photo on their campaign ads as ‘their’ Rabbi, they did it repeatedly. Now his office condemned their joining this government. Does that matter to your pragmatists?
Tommy Lapid is very cunning and very smart. He played all the insecure fools correctly. He took what he could get now, getting the best ministries, and successfully divided the religious and nationalist parties. If he goes too far, not to worry, Labor will come into the government to help them finish the job. What was the alternative?
For people to realize that a vote for Likud was really a vote for Shinui and Labor (which I predicted before the election). The National Union along with Shas, UTJ, and NRP should have taken an oath not to bend on certain issues even if it meant watching the Likud, Labor, and Shinui from the sidelines. That government would have faced demonstrations in the streets daily and would fold quickly. People would then have real leadership to look for in the near future.
We can make a 5–day work week in Israel and close all business on Shabbat leaving Sunday for leisure and work only for those who choose to do so. We can say “Shema Yisrael” and with true belief in G–d, finish terror by forcibly removing the Jew–haters from Eretz Yisrael without concern for what the Gentiles will say, as they hate us anyways. We can and we must create a system where Jews do all the work in our Jewish country. Our youths must be untaught the lie that manual labor is menial labor. We can put real Jewish curriculum into all the schools so that we can ensure strong, proud, Jewish youth for the future. We can cut the protektzia / nepotism, and with it the huge amount of unnecessary government waste that permeates all past and present governments both nationally and locally in Israel. We can and must cut taxes and encourage investment throughout the land. Privatizing government owned businesses is a good start, but we can also take the government out of the real estate business by selling Jews parcels of land on an open market all over Eretz Yisrael. This would not only expedite aliya, it would also pull the government out of debt for the foreseeable future. And yes, we can alter the current system in order to facilitate that all physically able Israeli youths participate in a form of National Service.
I hope that you Mr. P and others like you wake up and ‘get it’ so that we can get on with the business of saving our country.