Amid Jewish protests over Israel’s far-right government, a US rabbi uses ‘F’ word to describe the coalition

Last week Labour MP Kim Johnson offered an apology for calling the new coalition, led by Benjamin Netanyahu, above, ‘fascist’. It’s now reported that a New York rabbi used the same word in reference to a cabinet that he claimed was made up of ‘Jewish supremacists, fascists and racists’.

RABBI Jeremy Kalmanofsky, of New York’s Ansche Chesed Synagogue, described the coalition as “is “beyond awful.”

He wrote in a blog post shortly before Israel’s new right-wing government was sworn in late December:

It deserves whatever small protest we can offer from afar. The appointment of racists, fascists and Jewish supremacists as ministers in the government of the state of Israel is a red line no Jew should cross. 

According to Religion News, Kalmanofsky made clear he was not protesting Zionism, to which he said he is still committed, but a government that includes far right cabinet members

Then, at the weekend, Jewish News reported that around 300 people joined a pro-democracy protest staging outside the Israeli embassy in central London on Saturday afternoon.

Image via Twitter

The London protest on Saturday was one of 20 across the globe that day organised to voice opposition to Netanyahu’s far-right administration and its assault on the country’s legal system.

The protesters—mainly Israeli expats now residing in London—held aloft placards issuing stark warnings about the influence of Religious Zionism in the Israeli government.

‘No to Racist Theocracy’

Many at the London demo held aloft Israeli national flags, while others—such a man who identified himself by the name Aviv— held up a sign reading:”Yes to Tolerant Democracy—No to Racist Theocracy.”

Aviv told Jewish News:

I am Israeli now living here who is very concerned about democracy, and all the legislation that’s being proposed in the next few weeks. I think that’s going to be terrible.

One of the protest organisers Karen Shefet told Jewish News:

We are part of a global protest movement. There are a lot of Israelis and Jews who care about Israel’s future. The idea is to make impact all over the world.

Shefet said the protests had concentrated on opposing the proposed judicial changes in Israel which threatened the very “character of Israel” and the protection of minorities.

She said another goal of the protests to make the Israeli government take note about the damage to the country’s image that was taking place as a result of the ideology of the new government.

Lucy Kurtzer-Ellenbogen, writing for The United States Institute of peace, said:

This is the most right-wing and extreme government in Israel’s history. It has already brought Israelis to the streets in protest and prompted strong statements of concern from former Israeli diplomatic and security officials.

Even the current chief of staff of Israel’s Defense Forces has weighed in with security concerns. This is no mere speculative handwringing. Those in senior positions have been explicit in word, and deed, about their positions and intentions vis-a-vis the ‘Palestinian issue.’

Image via YouTube

She pointed out that among new members of the coalition are Itamar Ben Gvir, above, a routine provocateur and a convicted supporter of terror and inciter of racism against Palestinians, and Bezalel Smotrich who has consistently called for territorial expansion and Palestinian Arab expulsion. He is also deeply homophobic.

Ben Gvir is now National Security Minister, a newly defined role that gives him policy- and priority-setting power over Israel’s police operating within Israel, and also a border police unit that operates within the West Bank.

Image via YouTube

Smotrich, above, will be a minister within the Ministry of Defence with authority over policy related to Israeli settlements.

Kurtzer-Ellenbogen added:

Already, coalition agreements have been inked to legalize settlements previously illegal under Israel’s own law, and to commit to annexation of the West Bank, albeit on no clearly stipulated timeline.  

Beyond, the proposal by Justice Minister Yariv Levin to overhaul the justice system, if enacted, would include an override clause effectively removing any check on legislative action.

Among other interests, this would serve the agenda of those in the governing majority who wish to pursue retroactive legalization of settlements or other steps in the West Bank, such as demolitions, upon which the courts have previously served as a restraint.

‘Apartheid state’

A common sign in Johannesburg in the 1950s. See others here.

As someone who experienced the full horrors of living under apartheid in South Africa it always irked me when—after I fled to the UK— I heard people drawing parallels between SA and Israel.

During a discussion over the issue with a neighbour of mine, a schoolteacher named David Smith, he pointed out that such parallels were fully justified, especially given that, in 1975, Israel had become SA’s strategic partner, establishing strong economic and military relations with the 1975 Israel–South Africa Agreement, which included alleged nuclear collaboration.

This was at a time when the SA regime was facing world-wide sanctions.

Smith argued that, as I was devoting much of my time supporting the Anti-apartheid Movement, I should at least be aware of the plight of Palestinians under Israeli rule.

So I made it my business to do just that, and in subsequent talks I gave to schools in London and secular groups I made sure to include comparisons between SA and Israel.

I was attacked for my anti-apartheid, pro-Palestinian activism by a leading atheist

This led to a vicious attack against me by philosopher Professor Anthony Flew, then a member of The National Secular Society. At one of the Society’s AGMs, Flew, a staunch supporter of the South African regime, accused me of being a “communist” and a “terrorist.”

When I told him to sit down and stop making a horse’s arse of himself, he threw a bunch of papers he was carrying into the air and stormed out of the room.

In 2004 he stopped being an atheist, saying he now believed in the existence of “an intelligent designer of the universe.”

In 2007 Flew, in collaboration with Roy Abraham Varghese, wrote entitled There is a God: How the World’s Most Notorious Atheist Changed His Mind.

Image via Amazon

According to Wikipedia the book (and Flew’s conversion to deism) had been the subject of controversy, following an article in The New York Times Magazine alleging that Flew’s intellect had declined due to senility, and that the book was primarily the work of Varghese.

Flew died aged 87 in 2010.

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6 responses to “Amid Jewish protests over Israel’s far-right government, a US rabbi uses ‘F’ word to describe the coalition”

  1. “Flew was known as a strong advocate of atheism, arguing that one should presuppose atheism until empirical evidence suggesting the existence of a God surfaces.”

    I wonder what empirical evidence Flew found to satisfy his change from atheist to a belief in God. Flew was a man of great intelligence. I think the change was more likely to be advancing senility and the book being written by someone else.

    As for Netanyahu and his collaborators, they may push their extremist views so far that their government collapses on them.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. If I had ever heard of Flew then I have completely forgotten him and that is probably what he deserves to be.


  3. I too abhorred apartheid in South Africa and celebrated its demise, however, having visited twenty countries in Africa, I found apartheid alive and thriving in many of them (including RSA) in the guise of ‘tribalism’.
    In any democratic country where armed opponents are hiding in every nook and cranny and every bordering state is an Islamic ‘paradise’ that promotes your destruction, the rise of right-wing politics with extremists like Gvir and Smotrich is no surprise, it is more likely when a dozen or so parties are vying for a place in the inevitable coalition.


  4. The Israeli extremists seem to have learned from the holocaust how to be oppressors and bullies.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. You’ll be shouted down for being anti-Semitic for daring to criticise the thuggery of these extremists!


    2. Sadly, it seems to be part of human nature for some people to bully, kill and torture should they get the power to do so with little chance to be held accountable. Those who are charged with protecting the rest of us are ready to abuse their authority e.g. members of the Metropolitan police, U.S.A. cops.

      And they are not necessarily the worst examples. Just the ones we know about. The 30 years in the slammer for the rapist Met cop may encourage a fresh look at what is happening.


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