Thursday, June 16, 2005

Why we need Moshiach more than ever and why he doesn't want to come down

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They make strange bedfellows from opposite fringes – ultra-rightists and ultra-Orthodox Jews, joined in an alliance for diverging ends.

Brooklyn-born Moishe Arye Friedman says he's chief rabbi for hundreds of anti-Zionist Orthodox Jews in Vienna. He wants formal state recognition of his religious community, and thinks the rightists can help. Gudenus and his cohorts say they have no hidden agenda in supporting Friedman's cause – but they may have something to gain from it.

"For people like this, being seen with an Orthodox Jew is an attempt to gain some legitimacy," says Wolfgang Neugebauer, the recently retired head of the publicly funded office that tracks neo-Nazi trends in Austria. "They try to create an 'alibi Jew' to escape accusations of anti-Semitism."

The rightists sorely need positive publicity.

Their Freedom Party, which shocked Europe in 1999 by winning enough election votes to merit a place in the government, is on the ropes after its less extreme wing bolted to form its own party this year.

Even as official Austria struggles to come to grips with the country's part in the Holocaust during the time it was annexed to Hitler's Third Reich, the hard-liners continue to provoke uproar by sounding like apologists for the Nazis.

Just last month, Gudenus declared anew that whether the gas chambers existed should be "seriously debated." Last week he amended that view to "there were gas chambers, though not in the Third Reich but in Poland." He neglected to mention Mauthausen, 240 kilometers west of Vienna, whose gas chamber killed thousands.

Gudenus is under intense political pressure to give up his seat in Austria's upper legislative chamber.

Meanwhile, Ewald Stadler, former top aide to Joerg Haider (who led the Freedom Party to its 1999 triumph), also continues to stir the pot. He has equated Nazi rule of Austria to the post-World War II occupation by the Allies.

Stadler, who sports a dueling scar on his cheek and revels in the nickname "Doberman," was also at the bar mitzva, beaming as he was dragged into a line of dancing rabbis.
What the rightists and the rabbi share is a campaign against the "Israelite Religious Community," the body formally recognized by the government as representing all Jews in the city, and therefore the channel through which the government doles out support to Jewish schools, synagogues and other establishments.

The set-up, a relic from Austria's imperial past, was ruled unconstitutional in 1982. But the government has yet to rule on Friedman's bid to have his group recognized as a Jewish community independent of and fully equal to the 7,000-member Israelite Religious Community.
While the rightists sometimes cross swords with the group over such issues as compensation for Holocaust victims, Friedman's feud with the recognized Jewish community has grown so bitter that the latter has unsuccessfully sought to have him declared mentally incompetent.
So the rabbi has turned to Stadler, who is one of the country's three "People's Attorneys," or ombudsmen. Stadler says he could not hesitate, and besides, he says he and Friedman see eye-to-eye on important things.

"He has no Nazis in the family and I have no Nazis in my family!" says Stadler, with a grin.
The diminutive Friedman also courts controversy by uttering views that are repudiated by most Jews and in some cases embraced by far-rightists.

Friedman denies Israel's right to exist, saying it is up to God to lead Jews out of the Diaspora. He says Zionist Jews share the blame for the Holocaust, which he sees as punishment for straying from God's path.

Jewish anti-Zionism, on both religious or political grounds, is as old as Zionism itself. But it tends to be a minority view. Friedman is shunned by representatives of the Israelite Religious Community, who accuse him of being on the rightists' payroll – something he does not deny .
"He's a one-man show," says the community's secretary general, Avshalom Hodik. "And Stadler is an extremist. We have extremists attracting each other."

6 Comments:

Blogger AMSHINOVER said...

You're Surprised?

1:16 PM  
Blogger Shragie said...

Amshi Amushi,

This is not just Anti Zionist. This is total lunacy. I wonder if anti zionism is a mental disorder?

2:19 PM  
Blogger AMSHINOVER said...

Jerusalem Post June 17, 2005
REMEMBERING by Rabbi Wein

The twentieth day of Sivan was marked as a remembrance day on the calendar
of Ashkenazic Jewry for centuries. It commemorated the terrible pogroms
that Jews suffered in the Christian countries of Europe throughout the
Middle Ages and it marked the culminating pogroms of 1648-9 led by Bogdan
Chmielinicki. It is estimated that over two hundred thousand Jews were
murdered in that war of Ukrainian nationalists against Polish and Russian
dominion. When the Ukrainians, Poles and Russians weren’t busy killing
each other, they turned their fury indiscriminately on the hapless Jews
living in their neighborhoods and provinces. The great uprising petered
out by the end of 1653 but the damage done to the Jewish communities of
Eastern Europe was incalculable and permanent. The last three centuries of
Eastern European Jewish life were to be times of unending poverty,
persecution, wretchedness and eventual destruction. Only the faith of the
people in Torah and tradition allowed for any sort of Jewish life to
continue and even flourish under such hideous circumstances. Thus the
twentieth day of Sivan was declared to be a day of fasting and prayer, an
attempt to atone for past wrongdoings and a plea to God to redeem us from
our long and bloody exile. This day was not only a day for remembering
martyrs and victims but a day to remember God as well. How to reconcile a
just God with the sufferings and atrocities forced on the Jews by their
Christian neighbors was a question that always remained unanswered. “The
righteous person will live through one’s faith.”

The twentieth of Sivan as a day of remembrance and fasting has pretty much
disappeared from the Jewish horizon, even amongst many of the most
rigorously observant. The Shoah has swallowed up within it all past Jewish
troubles of the Exile. The rivers of blood and the ashes of the chimneys
of Treblinka and Auschwitz have erased the memories of Chmielinicki and
his murderous cohorts. I would hazard to say that most Jews today are
unaware of the events of 1648-9 and certainly of the fact that somehow the
twentieth of Sivan is to be regarded as a day of remembrance. The question
then arises whether the remembrance day for the Shoah will also suffer a
similar fate in the future. After there are no more survivors amongst us,
after all of the perpetrators of the atrocities will pass on to their
judgments, will anyone still remember what happened? And if remembrance
remains, will anyone really care about it or will it just remain a
curiosity for historians to discuss and ponder? If the twentieth of Sivan –

a day of ritual and tradition commemorated for centuries – has
practically disappeared, then why are people so sanguine that the memories
of the Shoah will remain with us forever? It is painful to contemplate but
history affords us many examples of forgetfulness and societal amnesia. It
was not for naught that Rabbi Yisrael Baal Shem Tov characterized exile as
forgetfulness.

Of course, the Shoah has the “advantage” of having museums and official
national days of remembrance dedicated to its memory. But whether a
museum, no matter how impressive and state-of-the-art and up-to-date as it
may be, can stave off apathy, forgetfulness and ignorance of the past in
any better fashion then did fasting on the twentieth day of Sivan remains
to be seen. The Holocaust deniers have a subtle strategy. They are working
to make the world- and the Jewish world as well- forget that the Shoah
ever occurred. If Chemielinicki can be forgotten, then why not Himmler and
Eichmann? If the twentieth of Sivan means nothing to most Jews then why
should the twenty-ninth of Nissan be guaranteed remembrance? The key to
remembrance lies in the culture, behavior and education of the Jews. While
the twentieth of Sivan may no longer need be observed as a fast day, it
should still be remembered for its historical value. In a Jewish world
that suffers from amnesia about itself and its past, knowing about and
remembering the twentieth of Sivan and all that it represents would be of
immense aid in improving our perspective. I hazard that in our school
systems, except for parts of the haredi system, the twentieth of Sivan is
just another day on the calendar. What will be the fate of the twenty-
ninth of Nissan one hundred years from now? It is a question that our
educators and leaders should ponder.

12:37 PM  
Blogger Shragie said...

Thank You sir,

Had I not known that Rabbi Wein was the author I would have thought that this essay was the product of another disappointed yet articulate member of our estemed community.

12:48 PM  
Blogger kathyt said...

i have noticed berel wein hates chasidim
besides jewish problems are supposed to be good for us right?

2:50 PM  
Blogger ליפא שנילצער said...

"Moishe Arye Friedman says he's chief rabbi"

no problem with that

"hundreds of anti-Zionist Orthodox Jews in Vienna"

questionable

btw: do you have a pictures of this guy, he might be my second cousin

9:37 PM  

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