There is evidently a serious possibility that Rabbi Lau may well become the president of Israel. At least that's the impression one gets from the absolute hysteria gripping the Haaretz editorial board (if Yoel Marcus is any indication). In a column published today, Marcus comes close to apoplexy when he contemplates the idea of a Lau presidency.
First, he recycles old innuendo and libels. (Libels, one might point out, which have never been proven.) Then he comes down to it:
In his column in Yedioth Ahronoth last week, Amos Carmel called the possibility of Lau being appointed president "an insult to half the country." And he's right. In a state where women outnumber men, a secular majority exists and an extremist rabbinic establishment incites its flock to oppose withdrawal forcibly, a rabbi for president of Israel is a dangerous proposition - politically, because as president he is liable to support opponents of withdrawal from the Land of Israel; and socially, because he is liable to turn his nose up at a million Russian immigrants and other pork and shrimp-eating Israelis, and leave the hands of Israel's women, waiting to congratulate their president, dangling in the air.
Let's take these one by one:
1) Lau being appointed president "an insult to half the country." To begin with, the president is elected, not appointed. Second, how does he know that half the country opposes him. Are all women automatically against a male president? In fact, Rabbi Lau has been more 'out there' in the fight against domestic violence than guess who? Yoel Marcus.
The same point holds true regarding the 'secular majority.' There ain't no such thing. There is, I admit, a non-Orthodox majority. However, if we put religious Jews with traditional Jews, we get a 55-85% majority.
As for the Russians...Well, those 300,000+ who aren't Jewish can eat anything they wish. Same is true of anyone else. The State of Israel, though, since the beginning has had kashrut in all public sectors. So what's the big deal?
3) He is liable to...leave the hands of Israel's women, waiting to congratulate their president, dangling in the air. First, there is plenty of halakhic precedent for shaking a woman's hand. Second, would that this were the only problem we faced, as kassam rockets rain down on Sederot (as a direct result of a policy for which Mr. Marcus was the chief cheerleader.)
All this is not really what's bothering Marcus. This is what's bothering Marcus:
As president he is liable to support opponents of withdrawal from the Land of Israel.
In other words, only a president that agrees with Marcus has a right to be elected. It reminds me of the recently departed Yitzhak ben-Aharon's famous remark after the Likud came to power in 1977, that he (and the other proletarians) would not recognize the result of the election.
(For more, see Ben Chorin's choice quotation.)
Now, I'm not sure about who should be the next president. I am sure, though, why Marcus is close to anaphylactic shock. More and more of the country is becoming more and more Jewish (though not necessarily Orthodox), and on Schocken Street they're desperate to stop the trend.
S'vet zey gornisht helfen.
How do I know? A few days ago, a beautiful shul was dedicated on....Degania Alef, by demand of the kibbutz members. Remember Degania Alef, the first Kibbutz, the mother of the Kibbutzim... Next stop, people, Ein Harod.
[On the other hand, just when you wanted a monkey wrench thrown into things...the Rabbanut raises the heat, and disqualifies most of the best, most responsible Dayyanim in North America. On the other hand, May HaQadosh, Barukh hu bless Seth Farber and those like him.]