UK Chief Rabbi Says Israeli Policy
Incompatible With Judaism
Ha'aretz Daily

The Chief Rabbi of Britain Jonathan Sacks harshly criticized Israel in an interview published Tuesday in The Guardian, saying that the current situation in Israel has caused the country to adopt a stance "incompatible" with the deepest ideals of Judaism and that the current Palestinian conflict is corrupting Israeli culture. (Click here for the Guardian article.)
"You cannot ignore a command that is repeated 36 times in the Mosaic books: 'You were exiled in order to know what it feels like to be an exile.' I regard that as one of the core projects of a state that is true to Judaic principle. I regard the current situation as nothing less than tragic, because it is forcing Israel into postures that are incompatible in the long-run with our deepest ideals," Sacks said.
Sacks said that "there are things that happen on a daily basis which make me feel very uncomfortable as a Jew." He said that he was "profoundly shocked" at the recent reports of IDF soldiers smiling while posing for photographs over the corpses of dead Palestinians.
"There is no question that this kind of prolonged conflict, together with the absence of hope, generates hatreds and insensitivities that in the long run are corrupting to a culture," he said.
Asked if he would join other rabbis who have described the IDF occupation of the territories as immoral, Sacks said that already in 1967, after the Six Day war he "was convinced that Israel had to give back all the land for the sake of peace. My father, bless him, was convinced that Israel's neighbors would never make peace. Thirty five years later, I think we were both right."
Sacks said that he would be willing to hold talks with Sheikh Abu Hamza - the fundamentalist north London Muslim religious leader who describes himself as a Taliban sympathizer and admits to sharing Osama bin Laden's views. On Monday, the sheikh was quoted saying it was "OK" to kill non-Muslims, and equated Jews with Satan.
Sacks said that a meeting between the two is "a thought worth pursuing. I absolutely don't rule it out."
Sacks also revealed in the interview, that he met one of Iran's highest-ranking religious leaders, Ayatollah Abdullah Javadi-Amoli in New York in 2000.
"We established within minutes a common language, because we take certain things very seriously: we take faith seriously, we take texts seriously. It's a particular language that believers share." A language, Sacks said, which most Muslims feel the west is incapable of understanding.
Sacks said that he would not sit and talk with people "who kill those with whom they disagree." He said that he would not sit down with a would-be suicide bomber. "In order to listen, I have to be alive," he said.


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