The following correspondence is making the rounds of email on the internet. It sheds light on the basis of the disagreement.
Disclaimer: Ian is my brother-in-law
First, we have a letter from Adass
Dear IanI am receipt of your email statement of behalf of the Mizrachi Organisation.I am astounded that you would issue such a notice without the courtesy of enquiring about the aim of this gatheringYou labelled this “a protest” which was “designed to attract the attention of the general community and the media” organised by opponents of the state of IsraelUnfortunately your statement is totally incorrect.This was not a “protest” but rather a gathering of Jews – Shomrei Torah uMitzvos from most communities – to say Tehilim and Tefillos against recent decrees aimed at harming the Torah world.We mirrored the call of the ENTIRE Torah leadership worldwide – Chassidim and Litvaks, Ashkenazim and Sfardim.The Gedolei Hador are pained at new legislation which further erodes Achdus and Shalom between fellow Jews.How can anyone sit back and watch as a Jewish State legislates that one Jew will put another Jew into jail for studying Torah?This is something that saddens all of us and we pray that Hashem should bring us together as one people.
This was not a protest. No one spoke, there was no speeches. No banners or signs – Just tehillim and tefilaIt was most specifically NOT done to attract the media. It took place inside a Shul – the most appropriate place for prayer.There was no contact with the media and no street signs.
You have stated the exact opposite of what we were aiming. We came for prayer for unity peace and you interpreted it as the opposite.I think you owe the organisers a public apology for your words.Wishing you a Good Shabbos and Simchas PurimBINYOMIN KOPPELPresidentAdass IsraelPS Please note that I am responding on behalf of our Shul.
Dear Binyomin,I refer to your email of 14 March 2014.Your letter raises a number of complaints concerning the statement I made on 13 March 2014 which I will attempt to deal with.First, you say that you are astounded that I would issue such a notice without the courtesy of enquiring about the aim of this gathering.The aim of the gathering was readily apparent from the poster that was widely distributed. The poster depicted a Sefer Torah wrapped in barbed wire conjuring up the very worst images from our recent history. It called upon men, women and children aged 9 and over to “show solidarity with our embattled brethren in Eretz Yisrael regarding the proposed new law”. It contained images of large outdoor rallies held in Jerusalem and New York. Although you assert that I should have made enquiries about the aim of the gathering before making any statement, no attempt was made to consult with the Mizrachi Organisation (or to obtain Rabbi Sprung’s signature) prior to organising the event. Presumably that was because it was anticipated by the organisers that Mizrachi would have objected in the strongest terms to what was being planned.Secondly, you say that I mischaracterised the event by calling it a protest.When people are called upon to assemble in large numbers to voice their opposition to legislation enacted by a democratically elected government, they are in effect being called upon to protest. A protest need not involve speeches or banners, although I note that similar events held in other cities included such features. You say that the event “took place inside a Shul – the most appropriate place for prayer”. However the poster announced that the rally would take place in the Adass Gutnick Hall.Thirdly, you state that in organising the gathering you “mirrored the call of the ENTIRE Torah leadership worldwide”.It is disappointing and troubling that you do not consider Mizrachi and our ideological affiliates around the world, who did not participate in any such events, as part of the Torah leadership community.Fourthly, you assert that the legislation will mean that “one Jew will put another Jew into jail for studying Torah”.A cursory reading of the legislation or the available summaries of it will reveal that the law has no such purpose or effect. Its intent is to gradually implement a more equitable sharing of the responsibility for protecting and defending the State of Israel and all of its inhabitants. The law does not come into effect until at least 2017. In the meantime, there is a full exemption for anyone over 26 who did not register in the past and an exemption for anyone aged between 22-26. There will be an option to perform national service rather than serve in the armed forces. Exceptional students will be completely exempt.Fifthly, you write “We came for prayer for unity (and) peace and you interpreted it as the opposite”.Scheduling the event on Ta’anit Esther and using the words “Gezeirot Kashot” (ie. harsh decrees) to describe the legislation recently enacted by the State of Israel plainly sought to equate that legislation and those responsible for it with with the terrible edicts decreed against the Jews by Ahasuerus at the instigation of Haman. Actions and statements such as these are plainly calculated to erode achdut. Referring to the Government of the State of Israel as “Shevet HaRasha” (the evil tribe) erodes achdut. How can you claim that you were seeking “unity” and “peace” when you describe fellow Jews in these terms.I note that, since receiving your letter, two of the seven Rabbis who signed the poster have since expressed deep regret and emphatically dissociated themselves from the document.You conclude your letter by saying that I owe the organisers of the event a public apology. For the reasons set out above I am not able to apologise for the statement that I made on behalf of the Mizrachi Organisation.Yours sincerely,Ian__________________Ian Waller SC