In reality, the rally that the RCA condemned was endorsed and attended by leading kehillos whose viewpoints strongly differ from the Satmar approach, including Sanz-Klausenberg, Belz and Boyan. The Rebbes of Skulen, Vizhnitz, and Rachmastrivka urged their followers to attend. Among those who participated were Roshei Yeshivah and Rabbanim such as, shlita, Harav Aaron Schechter, Harav Elya Ber Wachtfogel, Harav Noach Aizik Oelbaum, Harav Yaakov Horowitz, Harav Osher Kalmanowitz, Harav Simcha Bunim Paler, Harav Moshe Meiselman and others. Anyone who recognizes these names will be able to see that the protest was reflective of the broader Torah world. Indeed, both Satmar Rebbes were involved in the planning, and attended — but this wasn’t a rally against the legitimacy of the State of Israel. It was a rally in defense of Torah Judaism.
Gedolei Yisrael who disagreed with the rally were clear about their position. It was not, as Rabbi Goldin and Rabbi Matanky would have you believe, for the same reasons that they came out so strongly against it. My discussions with people who are very close to the other American Gedolim who chose not to attend made it very clear that, as I wrote in the original article, they differed on the question of whether a rally was an effective tactic.
Calling the rally a protest against “the existence of the state itself” is not at all an honest depiction. In fact, it may be what the RCA thought the rally would be when they chose to strongly condemn it before it had even taken place, and it may be what some Rabbanim thought it would be when they chose not to join.
But the reality is entirely different. They would have been wise to hold off on condemning an “anti-Israel” rally where, according to The Forward, which will never be accused of a pro-“Hareidi” bias: “Speakers on the stage repeatedly asked the crowd to put away any signs with messages against the State of Israel, and there were at least three cases in which protesters physically took down anti-Zionist signs held up by other protestors.” The anti-Israel rally they expected—simply put—wasn’t.
Furthermore, the notion that supporting a rally criticizing the Disengagement is legitimate, but a protest decrying a government bent on secularizing Torah Jewry is not, is incomprehensible to any unbiased soul. The rallying cry of the protesters against Disengagement was “Yehudi lo megaresh Yehudi” (A Jew doesn’t expel a Jew), calling the Jewishness of its proponents into question.
There is far more to say in regard to the RCA’s response, but time and space constraints will not allow me to. I will, however, close with this.
Right now, the Torah community is under attack, by what our Gedolim tell us is an existential threat to the primacy of Torah. If our adversaries are successful, our way of life will not remain viable b’derech hateva. Consider this: In the past, the RCA has reserved statements of “Condemnation” for protesting the likes of The Gaza Flotilla, Genocide, Jewish Acts of Violence, and Child Abuse. They have now added the Foley Square rally to that special group.
Rabbis Goldin and Matanky present themselves as heads of an organization that includes Rabbis “whose children and grandchildren identify completely with the chareidi world,” and that many of those who do not “have close, positive contact with it.” To “Condemn” our outcry over this assault on the absolute value of Torah learning is to delegitimize our cries in the eyes of the greater Jewish world, and only serves “to aid the many enemies who stand ready to destroy, G-d forbid” Torah Jewry. We can not accept that.
Neither should they.