A prominent Orthodox rabbi has broken a taboo by publicly advocating consideration of a division of Jerusalem to achieve a lasting peace.
Rabbi Yosef Kanefsky of B'nai David Judea wrote in the Jewish Journal of Greater Los Angeles that the "worst-case scenario" of relinquishing the Western Wall and the Temple Mount to Arab control would be horrifying and unfathomable.
"At the same time, though, to insist that the [Israeli] government not talk about Jerusalem at all (including, the possibility, for example, of Palestinian sovereignty over Arab neighborhoods) is to insist that Israel come to the negotiating table telling a dishonest story - a story in which our side has made no mistakes and no miscalculations, a story in which there is no moral ambiguity in the way we have chosen to rule people we conquered, a story in which we don't owe anything to anyone," Kanefsky wrote.
The 44-year old rabbi has occasionally startled Orthodox circles with his ideas, and enjoys wide respect among his peers in other denominations, who elected him to a term as president of the Southern California Board of Rabbis.
Kanefsky predicts that no peace conference will succeed until Israelis and Palestinians accept "honest versions" of their conflict and admit their mistakes over the past 40 years, including the occupation of the Gaza Strip and the West Bank .
Rabbi Pesach Lerner, executive vice president of the National Council of Young Israel, denounced the article, telling the Los Angeles Times that "Rabbi Kanefsky is completely off-base. I think his call for this discussion is ridiculous. It would amount to religious suicide."
A Conservative Los Angeles rabbi, David Wolpe, added: "To give up Jerusalem to people who want to destroy your country is an emotional high jump you'd have to be better than an Olympic athlete to vault."
However, another Conservative rabbi, Harold Schulweis, applauded Kanefsky's courage "to touch the third rail, which this is. It is a mark of courage and conscience." And Reform Rabbi Laura Geller praised him as "a visionary leader."