Rabbis Spar Over Israel's Right to Exist

Thursday, 07 Aug 2014 06:07 PM

By Sean Piccoli

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Two rabbis with opposing views about the legitmacy of the Israeli state debated the causes and consequences of Israel's latest war against Hamas in Gaza, and differed sharply in a head-to-head exchange on Newsmax TV Thursday.

Rabbi Evan Moffic of Chicago told "MidPoint" host Ed Berliner that most Jews believe Israel's existence "is critical to our survival," and that his ultra-Orthodox counterpart, Rabbi Yisroel Dovid Weiss of New York, represents a "fringe" religious position that Jews must depart Israel and live as exiles.

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"I don't think there's a way to bridge these two different viewpoints," said Congregation Solel leader Moffic.

Weiss, a spokesman for Jews United Against Zionism, based Monsey, N.Y., objected to having his belief described as marginal. "This is not a fringe group," he said.

Weiss said there are thousands of anti-Zionist, ultra-Orthodox Jews worldwide who believe that their bible, the Torah, forbids the creation of an Israeli state, and that salvation lies with the coming of a new messiah, not the establishment of a Jewish territory.

Weiss said the intractable conflict and violence between Israel and its Palestinian neighbors is the direct result of Jews disobeying scripture that commands them to live in exile.

"We have created an illegitimate state" in Israel, said Weiss. "It's a rebellion against God. It cannot have success.

"The solution is to obey God, and then we can have a peaceful dismantlement of the state," he said. "We [then] will be able to live as we had for hundreds of years of history … with the Arabs, Muslims and Christians together in harmony."

Moffic said that there was, in fact, a historical debate over Zionism — the belief that Jews must re-establish a homeland and a state in Israel — that stretched back more than a century.

"But that changed tremendously, especially after the Holocaust," said Moffic. "After we saw the death of six million Jews, people realized that a Jewish state needed to exist to assure the survival of the Jewish people. 

"So yes, Judaism lasted 2,000 years without a state," he said, "but it was a pretty miserable existence and I don't think any Jew would want to go back to a time when Jews couldn't defend themselves, when they were at the mercy of Cossacks, of pogroms, of tremendous anti-Semitism."

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