Monday, August 10, 2020 -
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Kaddish for the Palestinians, irony for the ignorant

Politicization of the Kaddish distorts what it actually says.

Kaddish elicits the deepest Jewish emotions.

Kaddish is not a prayer for the dead, but is recited by mourners upon the occasion of death.

Kaddish elicits the most profound memories and anguish. It might seem to be perfect for those who mourn the deaths of Palestinians along the Israel-Gaza border.

“Kaddish for the Palestinians” was just such an attempt at public mourning by some British Jews. However well intended it might have been, the event politicized the Kaddish, since the meaning of the prayer did not matter to the organizers, nor did the responsibility for the Palestinians deaths.

The Palestinians who were killed along the Israel-Gaza border attempted to breach this border with the express intent of destroying Israel by driving Israeli residents from their homes and their land. Many of the Palestinians at the border  were armed and were using their arms, or trying to. Besides standard weapons, these arms included rocks, burning tires, burning kites and knives. That is why Israel defended itself; that, and only that, is why Palestinians died.

No Israeli military action took place at the border other than in response to the Palestinian actions. No Israeli offense was committed other than the existence of Israel and of Israeli communities, none of which, by the way, were settlements on land that Israel won in the defensive war of 1967.

Besides the politics in the “Kaddish for Palestinians” event, the plain meaning of the prayer was ignored. Although Kaddish is the prayer typically recited upon the occasion of the death of a close relative, death is not mentioned in the Kaddish, only G-d and the living.

The living who are mentioned in the Kaddish are not Palestinians or gentiles of any kind. The living mentioned in the Kaddish are Jewish. This is a Jewish prayer. It concludes:

He Who makes peace in His heights, may He make peace upon us, and upon all Israel.

So, the recital of “Kaddish for the Palestinians” was not only a politicization of prayer, and not only a misuse of the prayer (for the dead), but ignorance of the words of the prayer (upon all Israel).

This type of sacrilege is typical when Jewish prayer is exploited for political purposes.“Kaddish for the Palestinians” reflected a kind of poetic justice: The protesters’ acquittal of Palestinians for their own deaths, incurred due to the Palestinians’ attempt to destroy Israel, was matched by the protesters’ distortion of one of Judaism’s most emotional prayers, as if Kaddish were a prayer for the dead and as if it invoked peace upon all of humanity.

Judaism has universalist prayers. Kaddish is not one of them. Aleinu is.

The “Kaddish for Palestinians” event elicited extreme denunciations (“traitorous . . . self-loathing”) and threats of violence. This put British Jewry on “a path to self-destruction,” said a leader of the Reform movement in Britain. This path, she said, features one Jew wishing another dead, crossing “the boundaries of decency and we are now into violent, harassing, bullying behavior.”

True enough. Threats of violence and denunciatory messages such as “traitorous” and “self-loathing” are inappropriate and dangerous. Ironically, however, they highlight the ignorance or malfeasance of the organizers of “Kaddish for the Palestinians.” The use of the uniquely powerful Kaddish as a partisan reading of the Israel-Palestinian conflict is itself incendiary. The very same alarm raised by the British rabbi against the critics of “Kaddish for the Palestinians” could have been raised against, and should have been thought of by the organizers of, “Kaddish for the Palestinians.” They should not have been surprised at the response, inappropriate as it was.

Let the partisans argue the Israel-Palestinians conflict as they wish. Leave the Kaddish out of it.

Copyright © 2018 by the Intermountain Jewish News

One thought on “Kaddish for the Palestinians, irony for the ignorant

  1. Danielle Rice

    One may sum up the actions of the ‘self hating’ Liberal Jews who recited Kaddish on murderous Hamas terrorists, as nothing more than ‘ignorance of Judaism’s prayers’, however nothing could be further from the truth!

    It is far more indicative, of the growing split between Liberal Jews, who cherish their democrat-socialist credentials along with how these Gentiles will ‘view them’ more than their allegiance/connection to Torah and the rest of the Jewish people.

    Amazingly, these same Liberal self-hating Jews, are astounded and puzzled, nonetheless, when even secular Israelis do not support their egalitarian rights at Judaism’s most holiest site, The Kotel in Jerusalem! These same self-hating Jews, many of whom may not have ever visited Israel, nor supported their Jewish brethren in a traditional manner (Israel Bonds, UJA, Jewish Federations, etc.), are intent on proving to the Gentiles that they have ‘Jewish values’ of ‘tikun olam’ (not even understanding the true meaning of the term) by supporting Anti Israel/Anti Jewish groups such as Jewish Voice for Peace, J-Street, and other anti-Israel or pro-Palestinian organizations.

    Yet for all of this, traditional Jewish organizations/groups, are always attempting to find a way to ‘be more inclusive’

    (‘the Left’, on college campuses, never wish to be inclusive of opposing opinions of course; they must set up their ‘safe spaces’)

    …and reach out to these groups, in order to allow them, to present ‘their point of view’, in discussion forums and panels.

    As P.T. Barnum once put it:

    “A new sucker is born every day’


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