Shalom Life | December 24, 2014

Orthodox Jews Denounce American Rabbi for anti-Arab Speech

Following the terrorist attack on a Har Nof synagogue in Jerusalem, Rabbi Steven Pruzansky of Teaneck, New Jersey referred to all Israeli Arabs as the "enemy"

By: Daniel Koren

Published: November 27th, 2014 in News » World

Orthodox Jews Denounce American Rabbi for anti-Arab Speech

Photo Caption: Ultra Orthodox Jew prays at Har Nof synagogue following terrorist attack

Photo Credit: Times of Israel


Following the terrorist attack on a Har Nof synagogue in Jerusalem, leaving five dead - three of whom are Israeli-American nationals - a prominent New Jersey rabbi, Rabbi Steven Pruzansky of Teaneck, decreed that all Israeli Arabs were "enemies" that needed to be "vanquished."

“There is a war for the land of Israel that is being waged, and the Arabs who dwell in the land of Israel are the enemy in that war and must be vanquished,” Pruzansky, the spiritual leader of Congregation Bnai Yeshurun, wrote in a post on his personal blog, published Nov. 21st.

“Measures need to be implemented that encourage Arab emigration — the payment of stipends, compensation for property, etc. They must be made to feel that that they have no future in the land of Israel — no national future and no individual future,” the controversial rabbi continued.

Pruzansky later removed the post titled "Dealing with Savages" but didn't deviate from his opinion. During a subsequent interview with the JTA, he decreed that he wasn't "saying anything outlandish."

Apparently ethnic cleansing and deportation of millions of people isn't "outlandish."

However, many Orthodox Jewish leaders - including ADL leader Abraham Foxman, who referred to the rabbi's rhetoric as "outright racism and bigotry," particularly coming from a rabbinic authority - have condemned the rabbi's advocating of exiling Israeli Arabs, and his stance on the Temple Mount: that it should be moved to Saudi Arabi.

“We cannot countenance a response to terror that resorts to wholesale demonization, advocates for the collective punishment of Israeli Arabs, or calls for the destruction or dismantling of Muslim holy places,” the Orthodox Union said in a statement on Tuesday, though they didn't mention Pruzansky by name. “Such rhetoric is anathema to the Jewish religious tradition and has no place in civil society. Such rhetoric is wrong and must be repudiated, whether it is voiced by lay leaders, community leaders or rabbis.”

Amen.

Purzansky, while not a political leader in Israel or the U.S., does have influence on his congregation's 800 member families, the largest synagogue in Teaneck. He's also held important positions at the Rabbinical Council of America (RCA).

The council's current executive vice president, Mark Dratch, told JTA that they support the Orthodox Union's stance on Pruzanksy, a statement that was backed by Rabbi Shmuel Goldin, a former RCA president.

“Rabbi Pruzansky’s statements reflect the frustration that he feels and that many of us feel as we view the unfolding events in the Middle East,” Goldin stated. “However, his conclusions and recommendations certainly do not represent my view nor the view of many others in the Orthodox Jewish community.”

In a Tuesday interview with the Voice of Israel, Purzansky said that the Temple Mount should be closed to Arabs, in order for them to feel the ramifications of "someone in their midst [who] dared to raise a hand against a Jew."


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