European Jewish Association

Yom Ha’atzmaut message from Chief Rabbi Jacobs

As a rabbi, I prefer not to get involved in politics and my opinion is that a politician should not interfere with religion. But where does politics start and where do rabbinical matters end? Is euthanasia a religious matter or a political problem? And who decides how far freedom of education extends?

That difference is even more unclear in Israel, because: “Israel without Torah is like a body without soul”, one can’t separate the State of Israel from Judaism. And therefore, we see in the Knesset politicians with rabbinical opinions and rabbis as politicians.

But even the Jew who is not an Israeli resident has the conviction that he may state his opinion and interfere with Israeli political decisions because, he argues, without centuries of daily prayers in which we asked G’d to allow us to return to Jerusalem, Israel would not be today an Independent State. However, my opinion is that just as the Israeli citizen does not make statements about the Dutch Prime Minister, Rutte, we, not living in Israel, shouldn’t interfere in internal Israeli politics.

However, non-Jewish society sees us as an extension of Israel. Over and over again, I have to explain that I am Dutch and that the compliment that my Dutch is so fluent, is misplaced. You’re not going to give that compliment to the bishop or the preacher, do you? But in according with their opinion “the Jew is Israel and Israel is the Jew”.

And yet there is a heart of truth in their falsehood, for Jews know themselves interconnected by Jerusalem, our capital, where one day the Third Temple will rise when the ultimate peace will be there “for all inhabitants of Your earth.”

And until then? When Netanyahu called upon French Jews to emigrate to Israel because of anti-Semitic violence, I was pushed in front of a journalist’s microphone and was asked, “Rabbi, what do you think of Netanyahu’s call? Do you really believe that there is no place for Jews in the Netherlands anymore?” Wow, I thought, that’s a tricky one. It is not possible to request time for reflection, to say that Jews no longer belong in Europe is unwise and disagree in public with Netanyahu does not seem right. And therefore, my diplomatic, rabbinical and politically coloured answer was: Great we have got Israel for all those who must escape anti-Semitism. My parents had nowhere to go. But if and when I go on aliyah, will not be determined by fear for terrorism. I decide for myself, because I am independent, like the State of Israel!