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Reform Leader Defends Diaspora’s Right to Speak on Israeli Issues

June 30, 1983
See Original Daily Bulletin From This Date

Rabbi Richard Hirsch, the director general of the World Union for Progressive Judaism, asserted here that because of the distinct and unique relationship between Israel and world Jewry, the diaspora has the right to express its views on Israel’s internal and external policies. He said the debate over the future status of the occupied territories was a direct case in point.

Addressing some 500 delegates attending the opening ceremony of the 22nd international conference of the Reform movement yesterday, Hirsch said: “Do diaspora Jews have a right to participate in this debate? Do we, as a world wide religious movement have a right to take sides in this conflict between two schools of Zionist thought? I submit that we not only have a right, but an obligation, both as individuals and as a movement.”

According to Hirsch, “if diaspora Jews have the right to speak out in internal policies affecting the fate of Argentinian Jews and Soviet Jews, do they not have the right to speak on issues affecting the Jews of the Jewish State?” He said the issue was not only political but profoundly centered on religious tenets.

“We have before us two conflicting concepts of holiness,” Hirsch said. “There are some religious Jews who professing love of the Holy Land and obedience to God, fan the flames of religious fanaticism, violate the civil liberties of minority groups, advocate rule by force and prevent the evolution of conditions leading towards compromise. We call their version of Judaism a perversion. Their love is blind, their Messianism false, and the zealotry dangerous. Their deeds defame the holy faith, desecrate the Holy One, and defile the Holy Land.”

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