Posts Tagged ‘chief rabbi’

Here’s the secret of achieving happiness, according to the wisdom of the ages

November 18, 2010

We now know the three great determinants of happiness, thanks to Rabbi Jonathan Sacks, Chief Rabbi of the United Hebrew Congregations of the British Commonwealth. They are:

· doing good to others
· a network of strong supportive relationships, and
· a sense that one’s life is worthwhile.

Rabbi Sacks told Krista Tippett, on her PBS program, On Being (formerly called Speaking of Faith), that this idea has been part of the “great tradition of wisdom for 3000-4000 years,” and we now know, thanks to modern science, that it is true.

One of the issues continually raised by students of ethics is, does ethics pay? That is, does ethical behavior lead to happiness? Rabbi Sacks’s formulation strengthens the argument that it does.

Israeli leaders condemn Jewish mosque-burners as “criminals” and “terrorists”

October 6, 2010

EthicsBob recently slammed Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu for his failure to denounce Israel’s former chief rabbi for calling for death to all Palestinians: his office merely issued a statement that the rabbi’s views “don’t represent” Netanyahu’s. But when Jewish settlers set fire to a West Bank mosque this week the Israeli Prime Minister quickly ordered Israeli security forces to “act firmly to quickly uncover the criminals and bring them to justice.” Defense Minister Ehud Barak went further, calling the perpetrators “terrorists in every sense of the word.”

It’s beyond my memory that any senior Israeli official publicly called violent religious settlers terrorists. Hooray for Barak; hooray even for Netanyahu.

Sadly there are people on both sides of the Jewish/Arab divide who use the incident to inflame. The UK-based Middle East Monitor headlined its coverage, “Israeli settlers burn yet another mosque in occupied Palestine.” It implied that the crime had the assent of the Israeli establishment, saying that “In the current climate of global Islamophobia these uncivilised and intolerant acts will evoke little or no condemnation or censure.”

Not true. Netanyahu and Barak are siding against the Israeli terrorists. That’s a good thing. There’s no excuse for failing to credit it.

We are tarred by what we put up with: “Death to all Palestinians”? Not my view, says Netanyahu

August 29, 2010

We honor politicians who denounce members of their party or of their administration who lie, cheat, steal, or defame. Those who defend such behavior—or are silent about it—are encouraging it and eventually own it as their own. Some try to have it both ways—gently stepping away from the crime without offending the criminal. Like Israeli Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu?

Israel’s Haaretz newspaper reports today that Ovadia Yosef, formerly chief rabbi of Israel, called yesterday during his weekly Shabbat sermon, for death to all Palestinians. Rabbi Yosef, spiritual leader and a founder of Israel’s leading ultra-Orthodox Shas Party—part of Prime Minister Netanyahu’s governing coalition with four ministers—described Palestinians as evil, bitter enemies of Israel:

“Abu Mazen [more commonly known as Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas] and all these evil people should perish from this world … God should strike them with a plague, them and these Palestinians.”


Nothing new for Rabbi Yosef. Haaretz also quotes a 2001 speech in which he proclaimed,

“It is forbidden to be merciful to them. You must send missiles to them and annihilate them. They are evil and damnable.”

When asked for a comment yesterday, Netanyahu’s office fell despicably short of condemnation, issuing a statement, according to the Jerusalem Post, that Yosef’s comments:

“don’t represent the views of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu or the Israeli government. Israel entered into negotiations out of a desire to progress with the Palestinians toward an agreement that will end the conflict and ensure peace, security, and good neighborly relations between the two nations.”


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