- 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
- "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
- 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.