Sunday, June 04, 2006
Rabbi Woodstock and the Goats
1. Subject: Rabbi Woodstock and the Goats
"Rabbi Woodstock's" War against Procreation
By Steven Plaut
At the fringes of the Jewish community are quite a few people claiming
to be Rabbis and promoting bizarre political agendas having nothing
whatsoever to do with Judaism. Some of these engage in outright
collaboration with terrorists and anti-Semites, like the ultra-Orthodox
anti-Zionist pseudo-Judaic *Neturei Karta
. At the opposite pole of extremism are assorted people passing themselves
off as Rabbis, while insisting that all of Judaism reduces to the political
agenda of the Far Left.
These latter people are promoters of the pseudo-religion of "Leftism
as Judaism", long associated with *Tikkun
* and its satellite groups. Some call themselves "Renewal Rabbis", forming
a tiny cult group of "Jewish Renewal". Quite a few are associated with the
Reconstructionist movement, a small semi-theological movement with ambition
of becoming the fourth mainline sect of North American Judaism, an ambition
never quite realized. Whatever Reconstructionism once was, back when it was
first formulated by Rabbi Mordecai
first half of the twentieth century, today it has been largely
reduced to a movement of liberal political
activism<http://www.jrf.org/rt/activism.html>(with such activism
proclaimed by the Recons to be the highest "form of
prayer") and the attempt to deconstruct Judaism as equivalent to this week's
political correctness fads.
All of this is invariably done through the intentional misreading of
the Jewish concept of "*Tikkun
or "repair of the world". (In fact, *Tikkun Olam* refers to the removal of
pagan superstition from the earth and has little, if anything, to do with
"social justice".) Members of the "Leftism as Judaism" cult of
pseudo-religion know very little about actual Judaism or other religions. Many
of the gurus in fact have no rabbinic ordination of any sort. Some have
Reconstructionist or Reform "ordination".
Today dozens of people purporting to be "Rabbis" sign openly
anti-Israel petitions, march in solidarity with the Baathists and
Islamofacists, serve as apologists for Arab terrorism, and serve as Jewish
figleafs for the planet's worst haters of Israel. Today one can find people
claiming to be Rabbis endorsing the loopiest and silliest fads and "agenda
items" being promoted by leftist extremism, Islamic radicals, and
anti-Israel "anarchists," all supposedly in the name of Judaism and
Jewish/Biblical ethics. But without a doubt, one of most outrageous of the
"Rabbis of Political Correctness" is Arthur Waskow.
For several decades Waskow has been promoting the idea that all of
Judaism reduces to the political agenda of the Far Left, and
especially the agenda
of environmentalist extremists <http://www.judibari.org/waskow.html>. A
close associate of Michael
frequent columnist for
*Tikkun Magazine <http://sf.indymedia.org/print.php?id=124531>*, Waskow has
long argued that Jewish Biblical ethics require one to bash Israel, endorse
Palestinian nationalism, and back the most extremist claims of the animal
Waskow has "rabbinic ordination" from the Reconstructionist Collegenear
Philadelphia, something that Michael Lerner never bothered to get, despite
the latter's claim to being a Rabbi. It is to Lerner's credit, however,
that he has occasionally spoken out against anti-Semitism in the Far Left,
something Waskow has never done. Waskow was claiming the right to issue
authoritative theological rulings on sundry subjects long before he
graduated from the Recon school.
Besides claiming authority to issue political judgments in the name of
Judaism, Waskow has long claimed to have pontifical authority in many other
matters as well. While having no training nor credentials whatsoever in
medicine, public policy, social science, nor environmental science,
all those areas, down to and including offering medical advice for
assorted ailments. In his political columns, which appear in numerous
newspapers and magazines, he tries to conscript Jewish traditional sources
and ideas to support US aid for the
Hamas<http://www.shalomctr.org/node/1101>terrorists, to denounce
"globalization" (which he routinely
calls <http://www.shalomctr.org/comment/reply/500> the "contemporary
Pharaoh"), to oppose the US campaign against
to justify al-Qaeda terror <http://www.shalomctr.org/taxonomy/term/18> as an
understandable response to America's imperialist
to denounce capitalism while fantasizing about the joys of socialist
collectivism, and especially to tout
form of tree-hugging ecological
he calls "
Waskow first rose to prominence
<http://www.shalomctr.org/node/1008> as a far-leftist political
organizer in the Washington, DC area in the early 1960s, specializing
in denouncing Jewish landlords renting property to black families.
For a while he had a job at a far-leftist "think tank" in Washington,
the Institute for Policy Studies. Long before he was "ordained" a
Reconstructionist Rabbi, he promoted a bizarre mix of Marxism and
Buddhism <http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arthur_Waskow>, superficially
accoutered with Jewish slogans and symbols. "Karma-stoppers are what
make it possible for us not to reenact the traumas we have been
exposed to," writes Waskow <http://www.shalomctr.org/node/208>, "as
well as not to suffer the 'just' consequences of our actions." His
theology is so grounded in Sixties radicalism and goofiness he has
been nicknamed in some quarters "Rabbi Woodstock". He insists that
Jews observe <http://www.mljewish.org/cgi-bin/retrieve.cgi?VOLUME=6&NUMBER=85&FORMAT=html>
the Sabbath "because without it cells become cancer, individuals get
mononucleosis and heart disease, and societies get H-bombs and global
warming." Really. "Today our most dangerous addictive substances are
not heroin, not even nicotine, not even alcohol," declares Waskow
"They are plutonium and petroleum."
In the late 1960s Waskow published a "Freedom Seder" version of the
traditional Hagada, based largely on celebrating the anti-Semitic Black
Panther Party and similar black radicals. In the 70s he was a central
figure in the Bash-Israel organization "Breira". Since 1983 he has headed a
small center in Philadelphia called the "Shalom
devoted to promoting leftist political activism. He also adopted "Ocean" as
his own middle name and also as that of his long-term live-in girlfriend and
sometime co-author. Among other things, the "Shalom Center" strives
the "Israel Lobby <http://www.radicaltorah.org/?p=97>", endorses anti-Israel
activists, has opposed the US
Iraq and Afghanistan, stridently opposed the Alito nomination, and has
supported far-leftist anti-Zionist extremists active in Israel.
Israel itself manipulated the US into attacking Iraq to remove Saddam. He
long ago replaced Moses with Dennis Kucinich as his mentor.
For the aging Ocean Waskow, Judaism is nothing more than the pursuit of
"social justice," and social justice is synonymous with the political agenda
of Marxists, Arab radicals, and leftist extremists. In other words, the
Jewish religion and ethnicity are in his mind nothing more than a sort of
belated membership in SDS. Waskow is all in favor of "peace," but peace for
him can only be achieved through denouncing Israel and the United States,
and opposing all uses of military
against Islamofascism and terrorism.
Waskow has special affection for the anti-American dictator Hugo
Chavez. In a recent letter to the *Jerusalem Report* (March 6, 2006),
Waskow wrote a letter entitled "Chaver Chavez", in which he claims the
reports of Hugo had making openly anti-Jewish remarks were "mistaken". Why?
Waskow insists it is because Chavez is helping the poor folks in
Philadelphia, by providing them with cheaper oil. "Now they are receiving
oil at very low prices from the Chavez government." He also defends Chavez
from attacks by Secretary Rumsfeld, adding that while Hitler burned people
alive in furnaces, Chavez is helping keep people alive by giving them oil to
heat their furnaces. Heavy!
Animal rights and ecology play such a dominant role in Waskow's
"theology" that it borders on pantheistic
. Waskow was recently arrested and convicted in
protesting illegally alongside the Israel-hating Cindy Sheehan.
It was hardly his first
While he has been arrested repeatedly for defending
American rage, he has never been arrested for defending
Israel's right to exist and defend itself.
Here <http://www.commondreams.org/news2001/0914-04.htm> is Waskow's
take on al-Qaeda, composed in his typically horrendous writing style: "They
must be found and brought to trial, without killing still more innocents.
Their violence must be halted, their rage must be calmed -- and the pain
behind them must be heard and addressed. Human beings become terrorists in a
pool of despair, we must dry up that pool of despair by replacing despair
with dignity and justice in all neighborhoods on this planet."
While Waskow has a track record of promoting leftist wackiness as the
true essence of Judaism, it would be hard to find other screeds of his as
truly wacky as ""Of Goats and Men", published in the *Jerusalem
*, May 15, 2006. It illustrates magnificently the silliness of the "Leftism
as Judaism" cult.
The central theme of the article is that the Bible, properly
deconstructed, is all gung-ho enthusiastic about homosexual relations, in
spite of explicitly prohibiting them and even making them a capital offense.
The reason for this is *not* the need to treat all sorts of folks with
dignity and respect, but rather, argues Waskow, because the earth is just
too crowded. Therefore non-procreative forms of human sexuality should be
not only tolerated but downright *celebrated.* The earth is now "so filled
with human beings that the whole web of life is at risk," he pontificates. The
more people we can get engaged in non-procreative sex, then the more room
the lizards and squirrels will have in which to romp and play. Waskow goes
so far as to assert that procreation itself is today a violation of Biblical
ethics and God's desires for human wellbeing!
Waskow bases this remarkable theological conclusion on the fact that the
Rabbis of the Talmud changed their mind at one point about raising goats in
the Holy Land. While there is no actual Biblical prohibition on doing so,
the Rabbis in the Talmud issued a prohibition on raising goats, probably
because of the ecological damages they were doing to the trees. Yet in the
Bible itself there are numerous references to Israelites earlier raising
goats and sheep. Waskow concludes from this business that there is some
sort of Rabbinic mandate to making up your own rules for behavior as you go
along, whenever ecology makes it desirable to do so. He then leaps to the
conclusion that promoting homosexuality is a sacred obligation because it
prevents procreation. Finally, he reinforces his deconstruction with
reference to supposed assorted homoerotic descriptions in the Talmud and in
medieval Rabbinic poetry.
So what is one to make of all this? First, let us note that the earth
is decidedly NOT overcrowded. It is estimated that, if settled at the
average density to be found in San Francisco, the entire population of the
earth could currently fit into the state of Texas, leaving the rest of the
planet completely empty. And much of the human population today exhibits
negative natural growth due to very low fertility rates.
Second, there is no justification in Judaism for revoking and violating
religious commandments just because one thinks there is some sort of vague
environmental damage out there. Putting aside the differences between
prohibiting something that was earlier permitted and permitting something
explicitly prohibited, Waskow's claim is simply ludicrous. In particular,
there is absolutely no justification for violating religious rules of
behavior just because someone is worried about the interests and "right" of
animals. Indeed, animals have no rights at all in the
le <http://web.israelinsider.com/Views/4766.htm> as such, although wanton
cruelty towards animals is frowned upon.
Third, why stop at homosexuality? If homosexuality is to be celebrated
as a form of "non-procreative" sexuality, why not also celebrate
*OTHER*forms of non-procreative sex.
Speaking of goats, there is always bestiality. Bestiality is of course
regarded as an abomination by the Bible, but so again is homosexuality. So
if ecology and overcrowding make one of those necessary, why not also the
other? Waskow would not be the first person to promote inter-species sex
as a great ethical duty. Peter Singer <http://www.slate.com/id/103801>, the
Jewish-born professor of ethics at Princeton University, has been promoting*that
* idea <http://www.nationalreview.com/nr_comment/nr_comment030501a.shtml>for
How about other forms of non-procreative sex as sacred religious
obligations? Such as with pre-adolescents? Or with devices made from
recycled plastics? Ah, but then there is Waskow's other passion: promoting
polygamy. Unfortunately *that** *is potentially procreative, which leaves
us all the more confused. The bottom line seems be that heterosexual
marital sexuality is the only kind of which Waskow
As for those supposed "homoerotic" sections in the Talmud and in
Rabbinic poetry, the homoeroticism is entirely in Waskow's own beholding
mind. It is not in the text. I have long wondered whether the description
of Bil'am's talking donkey in the book of Numbers might also leave Waskow
aroused. After all, such a romance would not be procreative.
Ocean Waskow has a long track record of arguing that true Jewish ethics
must endorse gay sex and gay "marriage <http://www.shalomctr.org/node/1029>
". Waskow has even drawn up a draft of a "marriage contract" for same-sex
"weddings <http://www.shalomctr.org/node/420>. He has also composed
assorted "commitment ceremonies" for those unwilling to participate in
One can imagine the Waskow alternative version to the Jewish
traditional sabbath songs, taken from Psalms, about God Himself rushing out
to embrace Israel like a groom rushing to meet his bride. The Waskow
rewrite of Psalms would presumably has God hurrying off so as not to miss
a nice commitment ceremony.
2. Please note. Due to the inability to block obnoxious spam, the
Plaut postings is moving to http://www.zioncon.blogspot.com
Anyone who wishes to find back posting, search the archives, or prefers
to read a blog rather than get email messages may go there.
Aoologies for change!
4. Kissinger's Master Plan ... or Final Solution?
5. Old Timers may remember this ex-Israeli bimbo as the great
entrepreneur of matchmaking for losers in the US:
6. Here is an interesting trivia point. The web site of Holocaust Denier
David Irving has been shut down. Guess he is having trouble keeping it up
from prison. I found out when I was tracking down appearances of articles
by Barry Chamish on his web site. (They are now down also.)
7. Vulgar anti-Americanism at Haaretz:
8. Anti-Israel fanaticism at Haaretz: