by Rabbi Yaakov Menken in the Israel National News
The Extraordinary World Zionist Congress took place in Jerusalem last week, filling the place of the canceled convention of 2021. As a delegate of the new Eretz HaKodesh slate, I was asked to serve as the Vice Chair of the committee on “Diversity in the Zionist Movement”—and thus I had a ringside seat as leftist voices jammed through a pair of resolutions designed to ignore and exclude Jews who follow the Torah.
The opening plenary featured high-sounding verbiage regarding the unity of the Jewish People, and the need to preserve that unity while allowing for the expression of diverse ideas. Yet the Chair of our committee, a lawyer selected for the purpose, proceeded to discard those opening admonitions. He wrote rules designed to favor one side, rode roughshod over the rules of order, and ensured that the resolutions passed without even a substantive exchange of ideas, much less an attempt to find consensus or common ground.
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The resolution concerning “strengthening the relationship between the LGBTQIA communities in the Diaspora and the State of Israel” provided a case study of the misuse of the language of inclusion to enforce ideological conformity and silence dissenting voices. It calls for “education… related to the inclusion of the LGBTQIA community,” and for the World Zionist Organization to join in “Pride Week,” a weeklong celebration of “alternative lifestyles.”
Ensuring the rights of people to behave as they wish does not, and cannot, impinge upon or curtail the rights of others, or demand that others endorse that behavior. On the contrary, genuine liberty allows all of us to behave in ways that others find objectionable. And that is exactly the point.
Proponents of the resolution apparently believe that bringing back eunuchs and female mutilation are actually good ideas, Hashem Yerachem, may G-d have mercy. But these woke policies claim innocent victims, especially once they advocate for men depriving women of scholarships, much less entering their private spaces. Yet the activists deride those women who recognize biological differences, and refuse to welcome “trans women,” as TERFs—” trans-exclusionary radical feminists,” as if there were anything radical about biology or common sense.
This agenda is also entirely tangential, at best, to that of the Zionist Movement, which is to strengthen the Jewish homeland as the national home of all Jews. Israel is already so welcoming to those of diverse orientations and lifestyles that its enemies accuse Israel of “pinkwashing,” using that very tolerance to mask the so-called persecution of its Arab minority. And, contrary to the resolution’s claim that it is those identified with LGBTQ who need special protection, it is those who refuse to personally celebrate Pride Week who have been persecuted and driven out of business in Israel.
And here is the key issue: the Torah demands of us that Kedoshim Tiyhu, you shall be holy. As Rashi explains, this directs us to withdraw from lewdness and immorality. No Jew who subscribes to the Torah’s dictates will celebrate any form of sexuality, much less a “Pride Week.” Jewish religious schools at all levels teach the value of every person and every Jew, but will not “include” alternative lifestyles as equivalent to or valid methods of building a Jewish home. This resolution thus calls for the exclusion of Jews who follow the Torah from the Jewish Agency and Israel’s other national institutions, via an ideological litmus test.
It is time the “Pride” activists awaken from their delusion: Jews have 3300 years of experience with other groups and governments telling us that our values and beliefs are wrong. Yet we remain Jews, while the Egyptians, Persians, Greeks, Romans, Crusaders, Cossacks, and Nazis—and Sadducees, Sabbateans, and Karaites—are all relegated to the dustbin of history.
Hinei Lo Yanum v’Lo Yishan Shomer Yisrael, Behold, the Guardian of Israel neither slumbers nor sleeps. An effort that demands of other Jews that they abandon complete fealty to Torah is doomed to failure. We remain a nation and a people precisely because this is true.
So if they want to put the lie to all their language of unity and ignore the lessons of history, then they can pass resolutions like these. But no one who actually values the unity of the Jewish people can vote for a resolution that requires violating a Torah principle, because Torah cannot and will not be negotiated.
They had the opportunity to hash out language that did not contradict the Torah while highlighting that Israel welcomes all Jews regardless of beliefs, religious affiliation, or relationships. They blew that opportunity.
So now, only one question remains: in the delayed electronic voting to happen next week, will the World Zionist Congress support an effort with a 3300 year track record of unmitigated failure? Or will they reject a divisive effort railroaded through committee, and instead call for better consideration of all voices at a future conference?
Considering the closed minds of the name-calling left, I confess I do not have high hopes. But I could yet be surprised.
Originally published in the Israel National News