Last week i emailed Magen David Adom’s (Israel’s national ambulance service) UK, US and Israel offices to complain about the appointment of Tzfat Chief Rabbi, Rabbi Eliyahu to its new Halacha (Jewish Law) committee.
In 2009, Rabbi Eliyahu issued a halachic ruling which stated that Jewish landlords in Israel should not rent out their homes to Arab students. Amongst other things, Rabbi Eliyahu has advocated carpet bombing parts of the Gaza strip, regardless of civilian loss of life, and hanging the children of terrorists.
This mans Judaism is not my Judaism or the Judaism of most Jews.
Six years ago i volunteered as a paramedic on a Magen David Adom ambulance for a few months. This organisation does fantastic work and regardless of what many readers may read in the wider media, MDA treat all people, regardless of faith, ethnicity, nationality, religion or sexuality.
MDA exists by what i consider to be Jewish values. The true values of the State of Israel, values which often seem to be missing in Israeli public life.
Rabbi Eliyahu’s appointment, however minor the role, is an not acceptable.
Please join the Israeli Religious Action Centre’s campaign to block this Rabbi’s appointment. The campaign is endorsed by the Movement for Reform Judaism UK, Union for Reform Judaism (USA), Pro-Zion (UK) and the Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism.
To write to MDA UK to express your concern click here.
Below is the response i received from MDA UK, who do not have direct influence over the working of MDA Israel, but do fund raise for MDA Israel.
Dear Adam Langleben
In recent weeks there has been a spotlight on Rabbi Eliyahu’s appointment to a minor advisory committee of Magen David Adom in Israel. Rabbi Eliyahu’s is widely quoted for having made various political statements in the Charedi community which many of our donors and supporters find difficult to accept. Whilst we have been given to understand that Rabbi Eliyahu has denied having made the alleged statements we nevertheless feel you might the following comments useful and reassuring.
As you will appreciate, Magen David Adom is served by many advisory boards and sub-committees and they all perform important functions for the organisation. In this case, Rabbi Eliyahu’s remit is to act as a conduit toIsrael’s ultra-orthodox community. Other committees work with Arabs and Bedouins (to name but two) and each has a vital role to play because MDA is serving each sector of Israel’s rich and diversified population
This helps to ensure we remain above politics, not a slave to it. Magen David Adom does not issue or approve or debate any political or religious opinion – on the contrary the guiding principles of Magen David Adom mean that we serve all the people in Israel irrespective of any political, religious or sexual orientation
We do however understand why some of our supporters might be uncomfortable with Rabbi Eliyahu’s appointment based on the statements attributed to him. Where appropriate we will endeavour to reflect these opinions in our regular conversations with our counterparts in Israel. However it is critical that our donors continue to understand that Magen David Adom continues to be a non-sectarian, non-political organisation that carries out unparalleled life-saving work in Israel.