Yehuda HaKohen: Prince of Gordian Confusion
A Patchwork Quilt of Jabotinsky, Critical Theory and The Tin Man. Perfect, though, for well-fed, Jewish teens looking for a little ‘Semitic’ titillation.
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When a man's knowledge is not in order, the more of it he has the greater will be his confusion.
— Herbert Spencer
There’s been terrible excitement surrounding a gentleman named HaKohen of late.
Indeed, enough of a ruckus we felt compelled to consecrate some time to investigate the bloke.
We’re not the first to perform such an operation, to be sure. Several years back, someone called Fuchs penned this. And deliciously apposite it was.
But now the time’s ripe for an update.
Here’s what we found.
Essentially, this Yehuda HaKohen (ostensibly a ‘Rav’), who teaches at a number of Jewish-looking institutions, is proffering a “Peace Plan” that has captured the imagination of a great many American-Jewish teenagers.
More than that, it’s said the gent possesses a certain savoir-faire and Svengali-like magnetism over his devotees.
That’s right. So they say.
Regrettably, questions of charisma are not our bailiwick, so we’ve chosen to ignore them in favor of an inquiry into HaKohen’s relationship with normative Judaism.
And here, too, we acknowledge the waters are muddied.
Because if you ask around, you’ll hear that HaKohen’s ‘tough as nails’ in his advocacy for the Land of Israel, ‘unflinching’ in his stance against Western influence on Jewish life in Israel, and a veritable ‘Kahane’ in his outspoken and unabashed promotion of Jewish pride and power.
Indeed, he claims to have been a part of JDL.
But if true, what’s even more certain is how far he’s drifted from that most meritorious influence.
To the point where he’s now espousing a bevy of patently non-Jewish ideas!
And holding forth in a manner that conflicts with halacha!
And that’s one step too far.
Let's start with a bit of background, the better to ascertain the connection between HaKohen’s hold over searching Jewish youth, on the one hand, and his rather weak grasp of the fundamentals of Judaism, on the other.
We start with this —
Yehuda HaKohen likes forming ‘movements’.
One might say he’s a baal movements.
But that would be borderline.
He helped found the ‘Alternative Action Movement’, the ‘Zionist Freedom Alliance’, ‘Magshimei Cherut’, ‘Vision’, the ‘Semitic Action Movement’, the ‘Am Segula’ group, and who knows how many others.
In a number of these groups, he granted himself the august title of — ‘Director General’.
Yet a look at his LinkedIn page indicates that he prefers to view himself as a specialist in: “public relations, public speaking and image-marketing…” (as well as ‘crisis management’ — perhaps an allusion to the success of his serially updating ‘movements’).
What gentle reader should take a deeper interest in, however, is that Yehuda HaKohen has developed a ‘Peace Plan’ that stresses Arab and Jew can, indeed, live together harmoniously in Eretz Yisrael — if and when, of course, said Arab acknowledges that the Jews are his boss, and he forever gives up his political/national ambitions over our territory.
He’s even gone so far as to suggest a ‘political alliance’ between what he terms ‘strong settlers’ and ‘Palestinians’(!) that would be a formidable first step toward actualizing this ‘peace’ — and warding off the inevitable challenge of a nefarious Chareidi-Kahane axis that might attempt to thwart it.
Now, this notion — of convincing Arabs they might remain as quasi-dhimmi subjects in Eretz Yisrael — was lifted from Yisrael Eldad, leader of the Lechi (and later, founder of the Greater Israel Movement) — a man who, for all his literary and philosophical (not to mention martial) talents, seems to have been insufficiently familiar with Jewish sources to conform to a Torah-true position on the matter.
For the Torah tells us unequivocally that co-habitation with Mohammedans (or Xians, for that matter) in Eretz Yisrael is a non-starter — even if it were possible.
More than that, it’s dripping with disrespect for the average Arab, whom HaKohen believes will be brought into the fold by a simple bout of mutual storytelling.
‘Narrative therapy’, is what he calls it —
[U]nderstanding the narrative of the other could actually lead to satisfying the aspirations and grievances of both peoples.1
‘Narrative’, by the way, is what remains after Truth is abandoned.
HaKohen has given his project a deliciously Madison Avenue moniker.
He calls it “Semitic Unity”.
And ain’t that just outta sight…
The full-bore genius of a ‘public relations and image-marketing’ maven.
Unfortunately, as mentioned above, it doesn’t comport with Torah.
To wit —
The Rambam, in Hilchot Avoda Zara (10:6), writes
Even for a non-Jew to live temporarily in Eretz Yisrael or just to pass through on business is forbidden unless he undertakes the seven Noahide laws.
More than that, the halacha dictates that before becoming a resident in the land, a non-Jew must accept Israel’s authority via tribute and servitude, must forever renounce idolatry and must submit to ever being considered there an alien.
Yet clearly, with this kind of talk you won’t win over confused Jewish teens.
Nor will you sell any richly-priced tickets to month-long, ‘experiential’ programs that highlight dialogue with Arabs and feature subversive lectures on radical new, West Bank ‘peace initiatives’.
And you certainly won’t open young Jewish ears to Arab storytellers.
If you can't convince them, confuse them.
Harry S Truman
And that’s why halacha is so studiously avoided by HaKohen and his fellow travelers.
Rather, the space that HaKohen has carved out for himself via his large and growing media image-marketing machine is one that sells.
That is, he knows his Rambam.
And he knows equally that there’s no market for it.
He’s also perfectly aware of the fundamental Jewish concept of Havdala, upon which the entire edifice of the Torah is grounded.
He knows that the Al-mighty living G-d of Israel wants His people to dwell alone in their own land in order to escape defilement from the spiritual impurity of the nations, G-d forbid, and in that manner to build a model society that will be a true or la’goyim.
But HaKohen knows that won’t sell, either.
Because in the current zeitgeist, you need ‘peace’.
Peace is what sells.
So he’s carved out a new approach — a new religion, actually — that looks and tastes and smells a whole lot like Judaism, but is really Horkheimer and Adorno dressed up in gabardine.
But not Jewish.
A Savage Irony
And this is where it gets downright comic…
HaKohen — the champion of doing away with Western influence on his Semitic-rooted brethren — relies absolutely on the Frankfurt School to understand Middle Eastern reality.
The entire Torah is apprehended via Critical Theory.
HaKohen has created a brand new ontology in which Judaism (and the Torah that informs it) is subordinate to the search for postmodern social liberation!
Primacy always goes to the academy.
With the result being, that HaKohen is so far steeped in the Western narrative ‘narrative’ that he can no longer see how far he is from the “Semitism” he so strives to embrace.
In the end, he succeeds in creating little more than a bearded, kippa-sruga clown act.
Let’s Review, Yehuda!
Fellow Jews and Noahides, please rest assured that Yehuda HaKohen is not in any way a danger to those of us who are genuine believers.
The sophomoric nature of his ramblings through texts he hasn’t the rigor to truly understand make it clear he’s engaged in a juvenile game of ‘smarty-pants.’
And his otherwise truthful comments about escaping the lures of the West in order to become fully Jewish, fall flat on anyone listening for more than a few minutes to the neo-Marxist ‘colonialism’ he’s ever ‘narrating’ about.
He’s a man who’s completely unaware that he’s buried himself irretrievably in the same Western swamp he seeks to escape.
And that’s pathetic.
And yet, for our sons and daughters there is real danger.
Not that they’ll fail to see the bumbling confusion and arrogance (and business motive) that stands behind what HaKohen’s propounding, for eventually the best of them will.
What most frightens is how much time they’ll waste until they arrive there. And more than that, into what den of confusion and potentially soul-crippling disappointment they’ll come to reside while entranced by his manipulations.
Yehuda HaKohen is many things — attention-seeker, salesman, P.R. man for a very lucrative publicity stunt that plays on the hearts of innocent, searching Jewish youth who seek real answers and hard truths to their questions, and are being given a snake-oil side dish instead (along with a generous serving of hope for ‘peace’, for which, at that age, everyone has a voraciously idealistic appetite).
But most of all, he’s just a story-teller.
Everything is narrative with Yehuda HaKohen.
Even his blather about narratives.
And that’s precisely the way we should understand him.
As a spinner of tales, à la the travelling maggids of yesteryear.
Except in one regard.
Theirs was lashem shemayim.
While his is a simple business deal.
All of which puts Yehuda Hakohen back where he started, in our view.
Somewhere in Manhattan.
Maybe Madison Avenue.
Maybe even a corner office.
An agency man extraordinaire.
But with little more yiddishkeit than the know-nothing reform Jew called Jason Weisbrod he started out as.
Jason Weisbrod, the Hellenizer.
Though he may despise that appellation.
But unless he does teshuva — and fast — he should be dispatched from our people precisely as his Hellenizing predecessors were.