Thursday, December 10, 2009

When Complacency Becomes Extremism

Bernard Avishai has a must-read piece on the recent remarks by the Israeli Justice Minister about biblical law being a "complete solution" and transforming religious law into the "binding law of the state." Avishai wonders how a distinguished jurist, an expert on international finance and tax law, and one of Israel's most prominent and successful lawyers, could endorse such a seemingly fanatical proposition. Money quote:

No, Neeman's tragic flaw is not fanaticism. It is a kind of complacency in the face of status quo agreements with the orthodox "rabbinical court system." As I've written in The Hebrew Republic, and as the indispensable Gideon Levy puts it in his column today, Israel is already not a secular state in the sense anyone in the West would recognize. The truly terrifying idea is not greater influence for Jewish law, but greater influence for rabbinic courts, which anyway have no place as an official arm of a democratic state. Let Neeman study Torah to his heart's content; let him find inspiration where he can. Just don't tell us that going to some yeshiva in Jerusalem prepares one even for an internship at Herzog, Fox, Neeman, let alone judging the disputes of modern citizens.