Author calls for rejection of official status as Jews

[4] And the LORD said unto Gideon, The people are yet too many; bring them down unto the water, and I will try them for thee there: and it shall be, that of whom I say unto thee, This shall go with thee, the same shall go with thee; and of whomsoever I say unto thee, This shall not go with thee, the same shall not go.

[5] So he brought down the people unto the water: and the LORD said unto Gideon, Every one that lappeth of the water with his tongue, as a dog lappeth, him shalt thou set by himself; likewise every one that boweth down upon his knees to drink.

[6] And the number of them that lapped, putting their hand to their mouth, were three hundred men: but all the rest of the people bowed down upon their knees to drink water. Judges, 7:4-6, King James Version.

An influential author, Yoram Kaniuk, wants liberals to abandon their official status as Jews, in order to shock the government

A demonstration was held yesterday (Sunday) in Rothschild Ave., in Tel Aviv, across from the building where Israel’s independence was declared in May 1948. It was in protest of the roiling waves of racism. There were some 200 participants, and plenty of rage against the inciting rabbis. Assuming Ovadiya Yossef was to find himself in this crowd, then, ummm, someone is likely to have shaken an angry fist in his face, or something.

Plenty of raging words, often sounding like a wake for a country that was and no longer exists, or, perhaps never did, and was but a dream. There were very few calls for action; one did catch the imagination. Yoram Kaniuk informed us he is leaving the Jewish religion, and asked us to follow him.

Kaniuk’s is a unique voice. He was a member of the Palmach, the “shock companies”, the elite force of the Hagana. His writings – he is a prolific author and columnist – have documented over the ages the decline of the Israeli dream. His works often deals with those the Zionist vision cast aside: people who belong to no clear world. His columns, over the past decade, decried the shock he felt at the rise of Jewish racism.

Author calls for rejection of official status as Jews
Yoram Kaniuk speaks in Tel Aviv (Yossi Gurvitz)

He said that Judaism as it exists in today’s Israel “isn’t one he recognizes”, though he admitted “all the ingredients were there for a long while”. Therefore, he informed us he intends to leave the official version of Judaism, as it is known in Israel: he will go to the Ministry of the Interior, and demand that the clerk issue him with a new ID – a document every Israeli is obligated to carry when leaving his house – which will not describe him as a Jew, but as a “person of no religion”. Kaniuk further asked for 300 “Gideonites” or more – see the quote above – to join him in this quest. He thinks, not without reason, that this may shock the Israeli establishment. Perhaps may even cause it to reconsider its policy.

I wouldn’t be that optimistic. I think that, where we are now, there’s a strong possibility the people who will take this step would be termed, immediately, as traitors or Erev Rav – i.e., the mystical enemy of the Jews, non-Jews who masquerade as such and who ought to be exterminated; an epithet applied to leftists more and more. Even so, this act is important, maybe even very important, if only for the simple reason that anyone who remains a Jew in current Israel is cooperating with the collective of a masters’-state. A person can certainly remain a Jew in his beliefs and morals; being a Jew as far as the state is concerned is much more problematic.

Unlike the term “Israeli”, against the inclusion of which in the ID the Ministry of the Interior has declared total war – so far, with the support of the courts – the usage of “person of no religion” is acknowledged by the courts. You can demand the clerk change your religion to “person of no religion”; he is likely to refuse, though, despite repeated precedent. Forcing applicants to go, time after time, through the courts, is part of the system.

In the following week, Kaniuk and others will make a concentrated effort to convince hundreds of people to take the necessary time, go to the ministry and argue with the clerk. Lawyers who specialize in this subject will publish instructions. Israeli readers are encouraged to join the effort. Details to follow, once I have them.