MembersWhen Biblical Interpretations Burst in the Knesset

The Bible is a constant theme in Israeli politics because absent the Word of God, the Jewish state makes no sense.

By Aviel Schneider | | Topics: Bible, Knesset
Member of Knesset Ofer Cassif. Photo: Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90

“This land belongs to God first and not to us.” This is what Member of Knesset Ofer Cassif said in a speech before the plenum. In so doing, he angered his Orthodox and religious colleagues in the Israeli parliament.

That anger stemmed first from the fact that Cassif read from the Bible without covering his head (kippah). But religious lawmakers were also upset because he gave a different interpretation of the biblical texts than that which his listeners in Jerusalem wanted to hear. With comments and interpretations by the famous Rabbi Shlomo Yitzchaki (Rashi), he made it clear that the dispute over the Land, and in particular Israel’s claims to it, would not be biblically correct if it did not adhere to the biblical rules. To hear this from the mouth of a radical left-wing Israeli who is a member of the communist party and is the only Jew in the Joint Arab List was simply intolerable for many. Another case of how biblical interpretations and ideas keep playing a role in Israeli politics. Especially in the Knesset.

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