Analysis, Boaz Okon, Yediot, December 8 2010 [front-page; Hebrew original here and at the bottom of this post]
In 1834, a clothes salesman in London refused to sell an article of clothing to a customer. The refusal stemmed from the fact that the buyer was “just a Jew.”The Jewish buyer sued the salesman, but the court in the Timothy case supported the salesman. It was not a just trial, but the judge employed a sacred principle, the freedom of contracts, according to which a person can choose with whom he wants to enter into a contract and whom he does not. This sanctity was a disgrace and a refuge for ugly prejudice.
The court’s non-intervention only supplied ammunition to the strong and violent versus the human and the weak, and the usual outcome of giving “freedom to wolves,” as Prof. Isaiah Berlin put it, is “death for sheep.” Since then, the sanctity of the freedom of contracts has been made subject to the demand of good faith. It can no longer serve as a refuge for racists. In the Israeli ruling in the case of Naamne vs. Kibbutz Kalia, Judge Miriam Mizrahi ruled that one cannot rely on freedom of contracts to prevent Arabs from entering a water park.
Now Jewish clerics are using a different sanctity, the sanctity of the Torah, to cover their racist shame. They will find that the sanctity cannot legitimize the ugliness. Their prejudice will also be consigned to the dustbin of history, along with the ridiculous ritual that surrounds it.
The infamous Nuremberg Laws forbade, in 1935, mixed marriages between Jews and Germans, and barred Jews from employing German maids (under age 45) and laborers. This prohibition was intended to portray the Jews as a kind of pest, not quite human. They became a persecuted bloc on the basis of generalizations and slander.
Gideon Hausner, the prosecutor at the Eichmann trial, would later say that in Israel, “we do not make ethnic distinctions.” But here, rabbis, who receive their pay from the state coffers, forbid people to rent apartments to Gentiles, to Arabs, because it “causes evil and makes the public commit the sin of intermarriage,” and because they have among them “enemies and people who persecute us to the point of endangering lives.”