February 4, 2013
The Honorable ____ ____
United States Senate
Washington, DC 20510
Last Thursday on Capitol Hill, hearings were held on whether to confirm the President's choice of Chuck Hagel as Defense Secretary. Members of our organization were present in the hearing room; you may have noticed us in our traditional Jewish Hasidic attire.
Our reason for being at the hearings was to convey our following most crucial message to the members of the senate.
Ever since Hagel's nomination, he has been subjected to intense criticism and vilification in the form of advertisements by private interest groups. This campaign has given rise to public fear of the senators appointment to this most important position.
We find this campaign, to us, as religious Jews, particularly disturbing. These certain groups, such as the Emergency Committee for Israel, have chosen to attack Sen. Hagel for his positions on the State of Israel. (Although this is not the issue, it so happened that Sen. Hagel has in fact shown himself to be strongly committed to Israel, but in the view of his detractors that is not good enough; he must support their agenda). The anti-Hagel ads imply that unquestioning support for Israel and whatever positions its government takes, whether good for America or not, is an indispensable criterion for leadership in America. This concept as a pivotal criteria, is a most dangerous position to take.
We strongly believe that only America's security can be a litmus test for a defense secretary. The President of the United States should be free to appoint members of his cabinet in accordance with what he feels is best for this country; his hands should not be tied by foreign interest groups. Likewise, his cabinet and all the other political leaders of our great country, should be concerned first and foremost with the good of our country.
Groups calling themselves Jewish who do insist on pushing foreign interests, certainly do not speak for Torah true Jews or Jews in general. And such campaigning is counterproductive for Jews here, as well as Jews living in the Holy Land.
Throughout the centuries, loyalty to one's country has been a pillar of Jewish values, as expressed in the words of the prophet Jeremiah 29:7, "Seek the welfare of the city to which I have exiled you". This is especially true in America, a country that has given us the freedom to prosper and maintain our religious principles.
And so we came to Washington to protest against these pro-Israel groups who have defamed Sen. Chuck Hagel, and to state unequivocally that they do not speak in our name.
We have an additional point to make. We understand that Mr. Hagel and other American leaders and policymakers have many strategic reasons why they support the State of Israel. But as Jews, we must clearly state the true Jewish view on this subject.
The State of Israel, from its founding day, has been a catastrophe for the Jewish people. It has only dragged us into wars and conflicts, and it has afflicted death and suffering for Jews and non-Jews alike. The State, by its mere existence, has in one fell swoop, stolen a land from an entire people while the Torah states that one is forbidden to steal. Ironically, the existence of this State and the actions that emanate from it, has caused the ten-fold exacerbation of anti-Semitism around the world. May we take the time to remember that Jewish communities flourished throughout the Arab world for centuries, prior to Zionism. Furthermore, the Torah forbids Jews to found their own state before the coming of the Messiah.
This was the rock solid Jewish position, held by Jewish leaders around the world, from the beginning of our existence, two thousand years ago, until the present day. This is the position shared by Torah True Jews and their communities throughout the world, from Jerusalem to New York, from the U.K. to Australia and all that lies between.
As a classic example of this true Jewish position, we present one potent and critical case example. On July 16, 1947, when the idea of a "Jewish State" was being considered, one of the greatest leaders the Jewish world, Rabbi Yosef Tzvi Dushinsky, chief Rabbi of Palestine, wrote in a declaration to the United Nations special committee on Palestine, as follows: "We furthermore wish to express our definite opposition to a Jewish state in any part of Palestine". (http://www.nkusa.org/Historical_Documents/dushinksy.cfm)
Therefore, we would like to make it absolutely clear that the interests of the State of Israel are not the interests of the Jewish people.
May the Almighty guide you and your fellow senators in leading our great country in peace and prosperity.
We pray for the day when the necessity for a Secretary of Defense will be no more, the day when the Almighty, with His compassion, will reveal His glory throughout the world and all His creation will serve Him in joyful harmony. Amen.
Rabbi Yisroel Dovid Weiss