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Asked to address an audience at the President’s Residence last week about what I call the “Jewish march of folly,” I briefly surveyed ancient Israel’s civil wars and their catastrophic results, compared and contrasted them with Israeli history, and then stared at my text’s closing lines, which addressed our current crisis.

Specifically, I was going to address what in my view is the anti-judicial assault’s most quiet, and yet most effective engine, and its relationship with our ancestors’ civil wars. However, with President Isaac Herzog and Supreme Court President Esther Hayut facing me, I figured the venue was inappropriate for that and decided to skip those lines, ending instead by restating my support (“Who wants civil war?” January 27) for the presidential effort to inspire a judicial reform by consensus.

This venue, however, is not inappropriate for saying what might have pooped a distinguished host’s party. In fact, pooping parties is part of what we columnists are meant to do – so here are those unread lines.

PRESIDENT HERZOG’S mediation focuses on both sides’ politicians, as it should. However, there is one more actor in this crisis, a crucial actor that no one engages or discusses, not because it’s irrelevant but because it’s inaccessible.

That actor is the three councils of sages that shape the ultra-Orthodox political agenda, which includes the effort to bring the Zionist enterprise’s judiciary down on its knees.

Ultra-Orthodoxy’s rabbis do not dialogue with the rest of the tribes of Israel, certainly not with the media, yet they hold one of the keys for dismantling the bomb that has come to tick in our midst. Bringing them into the presidential search for consensus is thus crucial, and the question, therefore, is what to tell them should such a dialogue commence.

Before that, the question is what not to bring up in such a dialogue, and the answer is that this will not be the time to raise the rest of Israel’s regular grievances concerning ultra-Orthodoxy’s relationship with the Jewish state.  

What we shouldn’t say

This will not be the appropriate venue for telling those sages, for instance, that their flock is a reincarnation of the biblical “clans of Reuben” who chose to “stay among the sheepfolds” and “pipe for the flocks” while their brethren fought a war of defense, as Deborah the prophetess ridiculed them (Judges 5:16).

This will also not be the venue in which to ask ultra-Orthodoxy’s rabbis who comes to their mind when they read Isaiah’s diatribe, “Your rulers are rogues and cronies of thieves… avid for presents and greedy for gifts” (Isaiah 1:23).

This will also not be the time to ask the ultra-Orthodox sages what Micah meant when he scolded “the rulers of the house of Jacob” and the “chiefs of the house of Israel” who “detest justice” and “build Zion with crime” and “make crooked all that is straight” (Micah 3:9-10).