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God’s gift?

Ephraim Mirvis, Britain’s current Chief Rabbi (in fact, he’s the Chief Rabbi of the orthodox United Hebrew Congregation, to which only a minority of British Jews are affiliated) has penned an appalling column in Jewish News.

Mirvis is leading a group of 50 Rabbis in “one of the largest ever rabbinic missions to Israel from the UK.” He states in advance what the Rabbis will learn there:

“The inextricable link between the Jewish people and the land of Israel is clear for all to see. It dates back not only to God’s covenant with Abraham but, according to our tradition, to the creation of the world.

“In his opening commentary to the Torah, Rashi brings a rabbinic tradition stating that the reason the Torah commences with details of creation is to emphasise that as creator of the world, it is in God’s gift to determine which lands belong to which people. In this context, Israel is the eternal home and God-given land of the Jewish people.

“Through the two millennia of exile, we have prayed thrice daily:’May our eyes behold Your return to Zion in mercy.’

“For the Jewish people, Israel is not and has never been a mere idea or a place of the heart. It is a physical reality, where we live and breathe as a people. The 66-year-old state is a modern-day miracle for which we thank the Almighty on a daily basis. We pray for its safety and security. We pray for peace.

“The Jewish people’s connection to this land is deep and eternal. It goes to the very fibre of our being as a faith community and as a nation. It defines who we are. No legitimate theological narrative or theological reinterpretation can deny this fundamental and essential link and any that does or attempts to do so must be confronted and exposed for what it is.

“Looking at the reality that is Israel, we cannot fail to be impressed and exceptionally proud of what our people has achieved in such a short space of time. While Israel is not alone in facing difficult challenges, the Jewish state has become a paradigm in many areas of endeavour, an example that others around the world admire and seek to emulate.”

The primary significance of this evidence-free diatribe is that it comes from the single most widely recognised “Jewish spokesperson” in Britain.

To be clear: the Chief Rabbi is immuring Jews in obscurantist chauvinism of the worst kind. If a leading Muslim representative in Britain produced something like this – a highly tendentious scriptural justification for a reactionary, exclusionist politics – there would be a great outcry.