Monday, October 29, 2007

Two and a Half Cheers for Rabbi Kanefsky

Last Friday my daughter and son-in-law alerted me to an opinion piece written by their former rabbi in Los Angeles, Yosef Kanefsky. Rabbi Kanefsky is a young and dynamic orthodox rabbi, with a strong sense of social justice, and the ability to think outside the orthodox Jewish box. Rabbi Kanefsky called for the importance of putting Jerusalem on the table in any peace negotiation, and just as tellingly, pointed out the moral failings of the settlement enterprise after 1967.

Big deal, you say? Well, for an orthodox rabbi in this country, it is a very big deal. I don't have time to sum up the letter, but you can read about it here.

I had dinner over Rabbi Kanefsky's about two years ago. He is not only a nice guy, but an inspiriing spiritual leader. His shul, Bnei David, is at the vanguard of social issues, including women's issues, for that part of LA. Apparently, he is way ahead of many of his congregants on Israel/Palestine, and certainly the orthodox community, which is divided into ultra-orthodoxy, Yeshiva University orthodoxy, and baal-tshuvah orthodoxy, a la Aish ha-Torah and Chabad -- each group more rabidly and mindlessly religious Zionist than the other.

Why not three cheers? Because Rabbi Kanefsky speaks of the need to compromise for the sake of peace, and not of the need to do the right thing, which is to end a brutal and illegal Occupation and Annexation. Because he takes the standard liberal Zionist line of going back to 1967, but avoids the gut issues of going back to 1897, or to 1947.

Why not two cheers? Because at least he adds this line: "Also included is the need to recognize that we have some kind of obligation toward the people who have been harmed by our decisions." That is a slight realization, but a definite one, of the moral dimension of the Occupation and Annexation. It will not win him friends among the Mafia Moralists.

The road to repentance is made up of many steps. Rabbi Kanefsky has taken several big ones.

Yasher koah, Rabbi Kanefsky

Today the story was picked up by the LA Times here.


Anonymous said...

I know I said i would never post here again but I really think you should read this article:

Jerry Haber said...

Michael Medved, conservative movie critic, wants to know why nobody questions Pakistan's right to exist, but they do Israel's. His piece is rather silly, since he clearly knows as little about Israel as he does about Pakistan --maybe he saw movies about them.

I should add that his Islam-bashing is apparent -- many rightwingers now are anti-Muslim, which just goes to show that people's natural bigotry will out. There are a lot of things to criticize about India -- but hey, most of the Indians are not Muslim, and they are allies of Israel -- so they have to be great, right?

Now, for his dumb analogy. First, India. Had India been created, by, say, those claiming descent from Indians who had migrated to Russia and Poland millenia ago, yet, in the nineteenth century, had formed a political movement to return from the "diaspora", then returned to India, thrown out the inhabitants, and then occupied large portions of the Muslim territory, not offering citizenship Pakistani citizenshp and thwarting the creation of a Pakistani state -- in defiance of international decisions, then I think some would have questioned its legitimacy.

Ditto for Pakistan, which at least rules with the consent of the governed. Rule by military dictators is preferable to a longterm occupation in which you are ruled by military and civilian governors.

The legacy of colonialism is for the most a pretty lousy one. Former colonial states have a bad time of it. There are many peoples who were shafted. But there is nothing out there comparable to the creation of Israel, where a foreign population, because of historical and nationalist sentiment, came to a country, and, instead of offering citizenship to the natives, threw out most of them.

Speaking of pretty lousy, have you read Medved's movie criticism?

Two thumbs down.

Anonymous said...

Even Arabs of East Jerusalem refuse to divide this city. In fact, they adamantly demand to remain under Israeli rule.

"In East Jerusalem, residents say they would fight a handover to Abbas regime"

Read more here:

Rabbi Dov Fischer keeps things in perspective. He penned an article accepting Yosef Kanfesky's invitation to dialogue about this honesty regarding the Jewish people's eternal claim to an undivided Jerusalem, the capital of the Jewish people homeland, Israel. It is a must read and correctly titled:


read it here:

Yes, it is true peace can come but it must begin with the truth and a peaceful will by all parties.

Israel is bleeding and the timing Rabbi Yosef Kanefsky chose to raise his own ambiguous mindset about the Jewish State preserving Jerusalem in one piece while he comfortably lives at Pico & Robertson - California, a real stolen land, is not only incomprehensible but also shameful, let alone coming from a so called Orthodox rabbi.

Not only Kanefsky lack sense of reality but he distorts historical factual truth. Either he is naive, unknowledgeable, or simply a dishonest useless/useful idiot like those on the far left everywhere who chose political correctness over honesty and truth and/or need attention they lack.

In other words, Kanefsky's article only contributes to anti-Semite and those who wish to annihilate Israel.

Sadly, to say rabbis or others like Yosef Kanefsky lack back-bone, resolution, pride, and/or Jewish pride. He and his ilk at the LA Jewish Journal are vacuous to say the least.

But far worse and again, these schizoids, fringe leftists are lending a hand to those who wish to wipe off Israel of the map and make certain to advance those intractable enemies of the West who seek world dominion such as fanatical Islam today.

Anonymous said...

Divide Jerusalem to create a terrorist state?

Rabbi Kanefsky reflects a schizoid personality that the so-called ‘progressive’ Jews of LA suffer of, regretfully. In effect, they feed the anti-Semites and those who wish to wipe Israel off the map and at the same time encourage those intractable enemies of the West who seek world dominion such as fanatical Islam today, which include most of the Arab/Palestinians society.

Rabbi Kanefsky is removed from reality, facts and history.

Jerry Haber said...

Oy, motzaei shabbat, and I have to read this drivel...

Ok, Anonymous 1 -- You say that the Palestinian residents of East Jerusalem want to remain in Israel and don't want to be "transferred" to the Palestinian Authority?

Well, DUHHHH! Who would want to
live under a weak, ineffectual, regime that is virtually starved out of existence by Israel, when they can get some benefits from their residence status in Israel. The idea to transfer them wasn't the Palestinians -- it was Israel's, who would be happy to get rid of some Arabs in Jerusalem.

But that doesn't mean that they don't see themselves as Palestinians. After all, they vote in massive number in the Palestinian elections and barely vote in the Jerusalem municipal elections.

Give them an option of living in a Palestinian state -- a strong, viable, and economically advantageous state, and they will prefer that in a second. They are Palestinians, and they want to be citizens of Palestine -- not some wheezing artificial creation that Israel can pressure at will.

Anonymous said...


Dear Rabbi Kanefsky,

Your efforts at upholding the truth are quite commendable. As you rightly said in your last paragraph, “There will be peace the day after there will be truth.” Unfortunately, truth has been ignored by politicians since the “peace process” started in 1993, which explains the existential anguish that Jews and Israelis are going through. I hope Israeli leaders will heed your call for disclosing the full truth so that they can embark upon a new era of lasting peace.

Of course, the pursuit of truth requires knowledge first. What are we to call “truth” if we have no clue of reality? Also, reality should be known in its entirety and this knowledge should not be truncated, as the Palestinians do, a point you aptly emphasize in your article. It is only when all the facts are brought to light that the full story can be told honestly. I have no doubt that honesty is paramount to you, as you mentioned this term – and any variations thereof – no less than 21 times in your piece.

I am prepared to grant you the mantle of honesty but only partially, very partially. Knowingly or not, you jumped on the honesty wagon before ascertaining the truth of what you wrote. And what you omitted from your exposé is so glaring that you are misinforming your readers in a grand scale. Like the Palestinians who regularly present their narrative in their distorted fashion, you too have grossly truncated the truth by limiting your view of reality to the post 1967 period. Had your vision not been so narrowly limited, you would have discovered that the international community recognized the historical connection of the Jewish people to the whole of Palestine, including Jerusalem, back in 1920; that Jewish settlement of the whole land, including Judea and Samaria, was not only allowed but highly encouraged; that these territories were not to be ceded to any foreign power; and that all those provisions received the imprimatur of international law.

Instead, you write that Israel is illegally occupying these territories; that the settlement of these lands should not have taken place; that this situation violates international law; and that those who challenge these views “refuse to read history honestly.” The most eminent legal experts in international law – Stephen Schwebel, Sir Elihu Lauterpacht, Eugene Rostow, Julius Stone and many others – would strongly disagree with each and every one of your assertions. On your side, though, you may find some allies in characters like Jimmy Carter; Arab academics of dubious credibility; the Neturei Karta sect; the leaders of Hamas, Fatah and Hezbollah, as well as a host of their Jewish sycophants who have been thoroughly brainwashed by the very kind of article you just wrote. I leave it to you to choose the most credible camp.

Allow me, Rabbi Kanefsky, to conclude with a saying from the Talmud: “If you add to the truth, you subtract from it.” What you did in your article is far worse: you started by subtracting from the truth. This can only be attributed to ignorance, sloppiness or, dare I say, malice. Whatever the case may be, your 21 instances of the word “honest” ring hollow. I don’t know what drove you to jettison the collective rights of the Jewish people and to disparage Jewry in the process. But I suggest that you and your supporters get better informed and, most importantly, get finally over your guilty Jewish hang-ups.

Best regards,

S.B. Toronto, Canada

P.S.: You claim that those who oppose your views “have never offered any alternative solution.” Nothing could be farther from the truth. Consider just a few of the alternatives:

- Dr. Martin Sherman: “The Humanitarian Solution”,

- MK Benny Elon: “The Israeli Initiative”

Anonymous said...

Mr. nom de plume I guess, Haber J. And I guess you are an accountant. Why aren’t we asking the Saudis or the Arab League to resolve the Arab world refugees for a change? Give them just 4% of the land mass they have, about 35,000 sq. mile, somewhere near the Persian Golf, so that they could have a beach. Build an infrastructure there and offer economical incentive, new homes, jobs etc. while Israeli Arabs who wish to destroy Israel too can lead the way. Why is it that Israelis need to resolve the Arab 'refugees' problem purposely kept in this condition for now 6 decades?

Israelis absorbed their own refugees after WWII and after many Jews from Arab geographical areas where either expelled, chased out or slaughtered. Who in the Arab world will agree to pay reparation/ for these Jews? Who in the Arab world did a thing about these Jews? Time that we demand from the Arab world to absorb its own people.

In addition, you can never blame Israel for the suffering the Arab now called Palestinians brought upon them by their own doings.

Israel repeatedly extended her hand to them but they chose to chop off her hand in no time only because the Arab world uses these Arab "refugees" as pawns as they have one goal in mind – to destroy Israel. Moreover, they will never relinquish that goal no matter how much concession Israel will make. Realize it already; didn’t you learned your lessons?

Any Arab who is not happy living in Israel in peace can move to any one of the 21 Arab countries. Most of these Arab states were created after the fall of the Ottoman Empire just as Israel finally came back to being when 6000 Jewish soldiers were killed and many maimed. Yet, you and Kanefsky, give away that spec of land Israel fully earned with much blood. Have you no backbone, pride or resultion?

Yes, do create another Arab state in the land mass the Arab world now posses.

Arabia is from where Arabs came from initially was only about 800,000 sq. miles. Today they have 5 million sq. miles. Israel is barely about 10,000 including Judea and Samaria, the Jewish people birthplace And apropos, can you answer this question:

Which nation has a more legitimate birth certificate than the Jewish people do? [ in Israel.]

Israel stole no man’s land as Kanfesky et al easily insinuate and acquiesce to the big Arab lie. Get real and get the facts!

Israel not only won it fair and square after relentless wars initiated against her but has a legal right to that land, by international law.

Carefully study the provisions in the 1922 Palestine Mandate and understand that it is under trustee ship that no one can revoke even the Israeli government. Who ever talk about this. But the Jews don’t defend their right as they are weak and the world always use them as scape-goats, and you and Kanfesky lend a hand to just that.

Study this link: Legal Rights and Title of Sovereignty of the Jewish People to the Land of Israel and Palestine under International Law
Howard Grief

Jerry Haber said...

Anonymous, why don't you just say, "kula sheli" and have done with it. As if anybody cares what some settler lawyer who is affiliated with a bogus "college" in Ariel has to say. At least the people you mentioned earlier had credentials. Jeez, from Gene Rostow to...good Grief!

Look: if Mr. Grief's brief was so convincing, how come nobody in the world buys it? Can't you come up with at least one goyishe international law expert from Sri Lanka or Belgium who agrees with him -- or, for that matter, one Israeli who is not a wacko right winger, somebody from the center. I mean, don't you realize that Saddam Hussein had his own lawyers prove that Kuwait was part of Iraq?

But to show that I take my readers seriously, I looked at Mr. Grief's brief and all I can say is, ay carumba! I haven't heard such pilpul since I was in the yeshiva.

His attempt to show that the Balfour declaration, which spoke of a "Jewish national homeland in Palestine", really meant a Jewish state in all of Palestine, is such balderdash, that I can only say that Ariel deserves a guy like that. No wonder the Israeli Council of Higher Education doesn't consider Ariel a university.

Look, you can find all the extreme rightwing Jewish lawyers you like. it won't help, because nobody, but nobody buys such crum pshat.

But even if he was right about the Balfour declaration, that is of no relevance, since it was superceded by the authority of the mandate, and the mandate most certainly did not see all of Palestine as a Jewish state. And the partition plan called for the establishment of a Palestinian state. But why bother, when Mr. Grief's brief is beyond belief.

Have a nice day.

Anonymous said...

Please, refer to the post above "AN OPEN LETTER TO RABBI KANEFSKY, A MUST READ. EDUCATIONAL. " as it lays it out quite clear. Please read it carefully if you truly seek truth, facts and justice to your own people.

However, I am afraid that even if truth hits you in the head, you will still not get it.

To wait for the mostly anti-Semite world to back up or justify the right of the Jewish people to their ancestral homeland, is ludicrous to say the least.

Do get some more education here,please:

You finally may get it that the Arabs will not relinquish their ultimate goal, destroying Israel, no matter how much concession Israel makes. And you and Kanfesky are their best tool to achieve that goal.


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