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« SA Jewish Future Imperfect | Main | Hamas Mickey Mouse Killed By Israeli Agent »

June 29, 2007



Calling in the cavalry? There is loaded cogent indication that Tilley is Kasril's sometimes ghost writer. Just check out Kasril's commentary in one of his most recent articles - that Benny Morris provides a "cynical" challenge to him, for the period Nov- Dec of 1947, to provide any documentation to the contrary regarding the intentions of Israeli leadership not to honour the UN partition plan . Kasril's "answer": that every one should know that a good part of the archives have not been de-classified. The truth is that most of them have been (and by counter implication: have such archives been de-classified or even been made available in a rudimentary way in the surrounding countries? Answer: NO). And to lend further weight to the assertion that Tilley is Kasril's ghost writer - she makes the same claim in almost similar words in the article under review. There are other indications and contextual examples pointing towards such an ideologically committed symbiosis, but I will leave it at that.


What Occupied Territories?
(A refutation of Arab League Information Minister Hanan Ashrawi & others)

by Prof. Efraim Karsh
Reprinted from Commentary Magazine
July 2002

Comment by Jared Israel

[Posted 3 October 2004]


"Steven Friedman, who is steeped in Reform Judaism" is an odd phrase for a website that seems to pride itself in reasoned and balance debate. Steve, do you suggest that Reform Judaism has as its focus, the delegitimisation of the Jewish biblical narrative?


". Steve, do you suggest that Reform Judaism has as its focus, the delegitimisation of the Jewish biblical narrative?"
Well Steven Friedman certainly has. He also has as his focus the demonization and total destruction of the Jewish State.
If you don't want Reform Judaism, discredited, Adi, then you must refute the hate spech of the likes of Steven Friedman,


"If you don't want Reform Judaism, discredited, Adi, then you must refute the hate spech of the likes of Steven Friedman"

I need to do no such thing. Steven Friedman may have his views but I doubt that he is the official representative of the Reform movement. I make no apologies for Steven Friedman, he may be as evil and wicked as you suggest but I think that it's a little unfair to tar Reform Judaism with the same brush.


Well Friedman was a big macha in the Temple Emmanuel shul in Parktown.
I certainly could not enter the same shul as him.
I could never talk to people like Kasrils or Friedman or shaket their hands.


Adi, Just saw your comment now. I wrote the post not Steve.

I am sorry for the miss understanding. I was in no way trying to mock reform Judaism. I don’t think reform Judaism has as its goal the destruction of Israel. Both here and overseas reform Jews have made an outstanding contribution to building and defending the Jewish state. Steven Friedman recently had a fall out with Temple Emmanuel shul over his anti-Israel views.

As far as I know (but I stand to be corrected) that Friedman is an ordained reform rabbi. The point I was trying to make is that Tilley and co hate Israel so much that they may get Steven Friedman to change the whole Zionist focus of our religion. I was trying to show that he had the ‘religious credentials’ to do. I am sorry for the offense.


This blog is not the space for a reform/orthodox/conservative war. And I don't intend to get into theological debates. (again, not the space)

However, since the matter is in many ways close to the general debate one could certainly argue Reform's long term commitment to Israel not to mention it's commitment to Zionism before the state.

From the changing of prayers to refer to Berlin instead of Jerusalem, to the efforts to integrate (I'd use the word assimilate, but that contains too many other connotations at this stage) into wider society, to the various bills and motions instigated by reform against Israel/the yishuv, the relationship is far from perfect.

Reform Judaism is not Israel's biggest supporter. "Reform Judaism" has done enough on its own to show this, without Stephen Friedman.


Hillel, I disagree. Go to Hebrew U for example or Hadasa hospital and see the immense contribution of American Reform Jews to the state of Israel. Organisations like AIPAC, AJC ADL etc all exist because of Reform Jews. On the other size the commitment of some orthodox sects to Zionism and Israel is highly questionable. While of course Mizrachi has done an amazing amount for the state other Hareidi groups have in fact teamed up with Israel’s enemies.


Hi Adi,
I just wanted to support Mike on this one & apologise for any inadvertant offense. Mike definitely didn't mean to lampoon reform Judaism.
Friedman doesn't speak for all of reform Judaism although he has been on radio claiming to. (i remember a discussion on radio just before rosh hashana in 2004 i think)

Let's all move on from that misunderstanding


I also, never said that Friedman speaks for all Reform Judaism, but Reform Jews have to make it clear that the likes of Steven Friedman and 'Rabbi' Michael Lerner do not speak for them. Notice the quotation marks for Lerner, not becuase he is reform, but becuase he boycotts and demonizes the Jewish homeland.
Why have more reform Jews not distanced themselves from Steven Friedman. Why was Steven Friedman given a platform at Temple Emmanuel to spread his hate against Israel, for so long?
I remember a few years ago looking at the different programmes available at Shavuout in the Jewish Report, and at the Temple Emmanuel I saw there was a cheesecake competition, followed by a discussion. LED BY STEVEN FRIEDMANN!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!
Leading the discussion where?
To preach venom and destruction against Israel?
To preach how evil Israel is, and how it must be destroyed?
To extol the virtues of Hamas and Hizbullah?
Any institution in which Friedman plays a large role is suspect!
The man's hate of Israel makes me sick to the stomach!


Hi Mike and Steve

Thanks for the clarification. Don't get me wrong - I was not offended, simply surprised by what I thought Mike was saying. To be honest, I don't know enough about Reform Judaism to comment either way. I have met a few Reformers here in Jerusalem who are Zionists and feel deeply for Israel which is why the implication seemed out of place.



Reform has a long history. I supported my argument with facts.

The fact that today many organisations are supported by Reform Jews, or were created by Reform Jews doesn't change history. In addition, to argue that those organisations are the exclusive domain and creation of Reform Co-religionists to the exclusion of other streams of Judaism is also a little tenuous. In particular because of the poor definition of who or what constitutes Reform.

The point is this. Reform Jews may be doing a lot of good for Israel. Reform today as a movement may be more pro-Israel than in the past (though again, if you look under the right rocks you'll find a lot of anti-Israel rhetoric, usually past off as anti-Rabbinate) but you can't deny the past or the vested interests that are at work.


The first comment in this thread is intriguing. I too have for a long time felt that Tilley is Kasrils's ghost writer.

His articles read exactly like hers.



I would be interested to hear your facts and history on the reform movement’s stance on Israel. I did many years ago read a brilliant book called the struggle for the soul of the Jewish state. I remember some stuff their about the reform movement being non-Zionist. Are you referring to Martin Buber et al?


Mike, I've got to admit it's not something I've gone into in any detail save for the main items I highlighted, which admittedly I picked up rather anecdotally. My point wasn't to prove Reform to be anti-zionist, it was in essence to disprove the claim that "they" as a block are committed Zionists.

I'll try and find my sources and see what I can put together, but at the moment my life and library is in a bit of disarray so don't hold your breath!

You might was well delete this comment. I'll send what I can find through to the email address.

As a final point, Reform Judaism is an extremely complex issue and none of the soundbites above do justice to the matter.


The truth is quite simple: the overwhelming majority of American Jews are either "Reform" or "Conservative" and one does not have to go into such tortured "debate" about where Reform Judaism stands in relation to Israel as a cherished state to be nurtured and protected. If the majority of US Jews are Pro-Zionist, which they are, and the majority "Reform" or "Conservative" you don't have to be a rocket scientist to figure out the conclusion.
To extrapolate from Friedman's totalising views on Israel and then to flood Reform Judaism with "contamination" as a result is really a bit crazy kahuna :) And I don't even belong to Reform.


Nobody was attacking the Reform movement as a whole, but it was just pointed out that there are individuals like Steven Friedman and Michael Lerner, who are prominent in the Reform movement, whose raison de' etre (sp?) is the demonization and destruction of Israel.
Reform Jewry needs to distance itself from such people.



while you have a point that if most American Jews are Reform/Conservative, and most are pro-Israel then most Reform/Conservative Jews are pro-Israel. That is self evident.

It doesn't however comment on whether Reform as a movement is pro-Israel or their stance in the past or their stance in future. In particular such issues would depend largely on WHY they're pro-Israel. (And why they weren't in the past).

I'm not familiar with the demographics of America's Reform and Conservative movements, but the two are not identical (probably not in size either).


I think Hillel hit the mark - Reform changed their attitude towards Israel. They in fact did a 180. What this means I'm not sure but it does demand analysis. What caused the changed and were this/these factors to reverse would reform's support for Israel remain. By the way, the was a rather uneducated quip made at orthodox support for Israels enemies. Thats Kasrils speak my lad. The groups to whom you refer are sidelined by all aspects of the orthodox community - saying they represent orthodoxy is as valid as saying Kasrils represents Judaism. But there is an interesting point to be made: By enlarge orthodox support for Israel also changed, though not to the level of reforms'. Before the formation of the state, and shortly thereafter Orthodox/chareidi communities gave tremendous support. But their support was based on the hope that the new state would provide a religious homeland, when this did not materialise their support became watered down and whilst they still, to this day, support the state, they do not condone the way the state is run. This leads to an opinions ranging from ambivalence to disappointment. But the chareidi community has never not supported the existence of the state, just the nature.

Anyway, here are some of the requested facts on reform:
1st reform temple - hamburg germany oct 18 1818
Constitution of new israelite temple assoc dec 11 1817 - denies all links to Israel.

Samuel Holdheim 1806-1860 - One of founding fathers of refrom
Frankfurt conterence 1845
''The hope of national restoration contradicts our feelings for the fatherland...The wish to return to Palestine in order to create their political empire is superfluous''

Pittburg platform 1885
''...we consider ourselves no longer a nation but a religious community and therefor expect neither a return to palestine....''

and then the 180...

pittsburgh conference in (I think) 1996
''members of a holy people we are rooted in a holy land....''


Brett Ouch! Kasrilspeak? I was not saying that Orthodox Judaism as a whole opposes the existence of the state. But there are sects that do. Many religiously Orthodox Jews have a problem with the concept of Jewish self-emancipation let alone the secular nature of the state. Lots of Orthodox Jews refuse to sing Hatikvah or attend Yom Ha’atzmaut for example.


Mike, both the examples you cite refer to their opposition to the nature of the state, not its existence. They see both as secular symbols representing the non religious nature of the state. One very great and learned chareidi Rabbi I know explained that for him, after all the hopes and dreams the state of Israel promised in 1948, these symbols represent disappointment.I do not necessarily agree with their standpoint but their refusal to engage in the secular celebrations cannot be viewed as not accepting the state. The chareidi community rejects all secularism, secular zionists shouldn't feel special. Even those sects of the chareidi community who strongly support Israel (and yes there are) often refuse to show this support in a secular manner.

I repeat - those sects which oppose the existence of the state are marginalized and ostracized by the chareidi community and so cannot be said, in any way, to represent their views. The reason I referred to it as Kasrils speak was because it was taking the opinion of a small, extreme and generally opposed sect and applying it across the board. When you say ''lots of....Jewish self emancipation'' you refer to neturei kata and perhaps 2 or 3 other relatively small communities in mea shearim (whom I'd prefer not to name because they have very similar names to a coulple other communities who do not hold the same views and I don't want to cause confusion). This hardly counts as ''lots''.

David H

In Bnei Brak's famous Ponevezh Yeshivah they raise the Israeli flag on Yom Haatzmaut. But they need people to guard it. Why?

Because so many people see it as a defamation and want it taken down. And its not Neturei Karta folks that have a problem with it.

Yom Hazikaron, secular or not, our soldiers died defending what we have. And in South Africa, it is generally on the Bnei and Mizrahi Rabbis that attend.

How many Haredi communities in SA say the prayer for Israel after the reading of the Torah?

Still, they are in the minority of Orthodox Jews, but it certainly is legitimate to criticize orthodox groups after reform groups have been criticized.

Many Israeli Arabs who are citizens and therefor recognize the state could also argue that they don't have a problem with Israel's existence, they just have a problem with the character of the state.


David, you made my point - the see the flag as a defamation as it represents the secular state. I'm not saying they shouldn't be criticized, in fact if you look back to my first comment thats exactly what I did. I pointed out the chareidim do not show unconditional support for Israel - their support is dependent on how religious the state is. But the vast majority will take a secular state over no state at all. You cannot keep bringing me examples of how they don't support secular symbols of the state as a proof that they don't support the states existence.

Yom Hazikaron is a perfect example. I'm not saying the ceremonies have no merit at all but if you ask anyone in any part of the spectrum of orthodoxy, they will agree that Jews honour the dead by learning and praying in their name. Secular ideas such as moments of silence or watching videos have their place but not to a chareidi person who sees learning as the fundamental centre point of his life and so that is how he expresses his gratitude. That said I have tremendous issues with the lack of sensitivity and unity shown by many chareidi communities on the issue. I feel that they should be more careful to explain their point of view.

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