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August 28, 2016 8:43 pm

‘The Law of the Land Is the Law,’ Say French-Jewish Leaders Defending Controversial Burkini Ban

avatar by Ruthie Blum

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Muslim women wearing burkinis. Photo: Wikipedia.

Muslim women wearing burkinis. Photo: Wikipedia.

Many Jewish leaders in France support the recently imposed — and subsequently overruled — ban on burkinis, the Hebrew newspaper Makor Rishon reported on Sunday.

According to the report, the controversial ruling on the head-to-toe bathing suits worn by religious Muslim women has “surprising” backing from a predominantly Orthodox or traditional community, which also favors “modest” attire.

Rabbi Moshe Sabag of the Great Synagogue in Paris told Makor Rishon that the wearing of full-body burqas – and by extension burkinis  – “conveys a problematic message of Islamism.”

He said that the French “are afraid that Islam will become the country’s largest religion. Many feel that through such clothing as burqas and burkinis, Muslim women are trying to impose their customs on the general secular population.”

Sabag then explained why he does  not consider the prohibition of the modest Muslim bathing suits worrisome.
“Religious Jewish women do not go to the beach in France dressed this way,” he said. ” When they are in Israel, they mostly frequent segregated [male-female] beaches; in France, they go to private swimming pools.”

This sentiment was echoed by journalist and political analyst Daniel Hayek, who said that religious-Jewish women in France simply do not go to the beach. “Members of the ultra-Orthodox community travel to the Alps in the summer, not to the Riviera or to Cannes,” he claimed, adding that such religious vacationers stay in hotels whose kitchens have been made kosher, and whose swimming pools set aside different hours for men and women.

Hayek then referred to the recent declaration by former President Nicolas Sarkozy that he would run in the next election and — if successful — would promote legislation prohibiting all outward symbols of religion, including burqas and kippot [Jewish skullcaps] in public spaces and the workplace.

“Where does this come from?” Hayek asked rhetorically. “Not from the Jews. Jews have always known how to be respectful. They have always known when to compromise and how to integrate their private lifestyle into the secular republic.”

French parliamentarian Meir Habib, former head of the Jewish umbrella organization CRIF told Makor Rishon that he, too, supports the burkini ban. “During 2,000 years of exile, it has been clear to Jews: ‘Dina d’malchuta dina’ [Aramaic for “The law of the land is the law”]. You have to abide by local laws, except in cases of incest, bloodshed and idol worship. That’s why there was an absence of friction.”

Habib said he believes the burkini is a “cultural-political garment,” and that he wouldn’t have a problem with it, if not for the fact that “Muslims do not accept our laws. They want to change French legislation. France has 6-8 million Muslims who are becoming increasingly radical. We have to protect the republic.”

However, according to Makor Rishon, not all French rabbis agree with the anti-burkini law. Haredi Rabbi Raphael Sadin, who heads an institute for the study of the Talmud in Jerusalem, considers it to be a very dangerous law, which “will cause young Muslims to see it as a war against Islam… and to consider every French citizen an enemy. It will encourage more youngsters to become terrorists.”

Why, he asked, “do the French care how Muslims dress? Western liberalism doesn’t exist when the ‘other,’ who symbolizes different values, is accused of threatening liberalism. This shows great ideological weakness.”

Sadin went on: “Jews lived in exile for 2,000 years, and we possess profound wisdom about how to live in accordance with halacha [Jewish law] while not disturbing the gentiles.”

Sadin concluded that the new anti-burkini law could hurt the Jewish community. “If the French get to the point of banning public signs of religion, though spurred by Islam, religious Jews won’t be able to live comfortably in France,” he said. “It is a tangible danger.”

The ban on burkinis, which was adopted by 15 local authorities – and began to be enforced by police scouring French shores for violators – was overturned on Friday by France’s highest administrative court. According to the UK’s Independent, the State Council (Conseil d’Etat) said the ban “has dealt a serious and clearly illegal blow to fundamental liberties such as the freedom of movement, freedom of conscience and personal liberty.”

However, as the British Telegraph reported on Sunday, mayors of 28 French towns are maintaining burkini bans in defiance of this ruling.

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  • Joan Peterdi

    Would the ban apply to women who wore ANY dress (i.e. NOT a ‘swimsuit’) onto the beach or into the sea?

    When we non-muslims lived in Turkey, we bathed in the sea in swimsuits alongside the women who were wearing dresses and pajamas…the difference being, instead of banning us, they ‘tolerated’ our immodesty because they knew it was our custom.

    Hopefully it’s still this way on Turkish beaches [?] and that in France and elsewhere legal decrees may honor age-old traditions about personal modesty.

  • Edna

    I believe that birkinis are less dangerous to swim in than the black flowing gallabiyas many Muslim women try to swim in. The latter has caused many drownings in various Muslim beach countries.

    My only objection is that these habits have just recently surfaced, and their timing could not have been worse, as French people are enraged by the many Islamic murderous terrorist acts causing death to innocent young people, families and babies (including Muslim ones).

    Ergo Muslim women wearing a birkini on beaches which are close to where the Nice tragedy occurred shows total lack of sensitivity and outrageous disrespect by these Muslim women.

    Their burkini is being used as an in your face dysfunctional religious statement.

    I should add that I believe that the topless, and mini-kini wearers are also showing total lack of sensitivity and outrageous disrespect.

  • We are overlooking the fact that swimming in all that garb increases drowning risks. take it all off, wet it completely, and then weigh it. Do you want to swim with that sort of anchor?

  • brenrod

    french jews as foolish as french gentiles…… it is not the burkini commiting terror…. it is muslims… duh?
    ban muslims not the burkinis….. the terrorists remain in place because dummies focus on swimsuits.

    • Jacqueline Tolkin.

      brenrod, you got that just right!


    Burkini’s are an abomination!

    They are the opening shot for Sharia Law as a soon to be majority imposition of a violent political/religious cult in France, in particular, and Europe, generally within the next five[5] years.

    The coming hell of a Clinton administration will complete the demise of the USA’s constitutional republic , replacing it with Sharia Law in its stead!


      August 29, 2016
      11:48 am
      Burkini’s are an abomination!

      They represent the opening shot for the advent of Sharia Law as a soon to be majority imposition of a violent political/religious cult in France, in particular, and Europe, generally within the next five[5] years.

      The coming hell of a Clinton administration will complete the demise of the USA’s constitutional republic , replacing it with Sharia Law in its stead!

  • nat cheiman

    Europe is probably finished anyway, so does it matter?

  • naomi

    It is not true to say that we Jews blend in with the majority population. In London, in the Stamford Hill district especially, Jews are very conspicuous in their dress and do not think twice about offending British sensibilities by wearing ‘strange’ clothing.

    Looking at the burkini ban from this perspective, the ban does not make sense. It also does not make sense that modestly clad women should be penalised while those exposing all are tolerated. Muslim women are showing that it is possible to be modest and still have fun on the beach. They deserve our admiration and we should learn from them.

  • Time to force Muslim men to wear this ‘modest’ ridiculous looking outfit in 40° heat.

    Guaranteed that this ‘problem’ will out of the world in no time!

    Why is it that the burden of proof about being a good/bad Muslim is in the woman’s outfit?

    Modesty is not in play here, for Muslim women spending thousands on handbags & outfits, jetting around the world in their private planes and feasting on their yachts have nothing to do with modesty even when they put on 20 burka’s.

    Modesty is in your mind & behaviour and not in the forced covering up!

  • A Sander

    I d not agree with tis sentiment. I do agree that the law of the land is te law. The banning of the burkini in my mind is a bad law. So to my more observant co-religionists in France what wold you say if the yamulka and the sheitel was banned?

  • Adi Schnytzer

    This is slightly hypocritical. When countries have banned shkhita or localities have attempted (as in San Francisco) to ban circumcision, the uproar has been quick to arise and correctly so. Why should people in a democracy not be free to wear what they wish? I believe Rabbi Sadin; it is indeed great ideological weakness.

  • Jill Friedman

    How sad that “religious Jewish women in France never go to the beach.” The beach is such a beautiful place. Everyone should go and be welcome at the beach, whatever their gender, religion or choice of clothing. I wonder if religious Jewish men go to the beach–or do they choose to segregate themselves as well?

    At least one of these rabbis is quoted as saying “the law of the land is the law”–yet inconsistently supports the so-called “burkini bans” which the highest court of the land has declared illegal. This indicates a lack of respect for the “law of the land.”

    Now if some people want to segregate themselves and waive their rights to use the public spaces and facilities that is their perogative. But that does not diminish the rights of other legal residents including Muslim women to frequent and use these spaces, as determined in the judges’ ruling.

  • I have nothing against pajama clad women bathing in the sea alongside decent people. If that is what Muslims want that fine by me but those pajama game squad MUST NOT INTERFERE with those who want to wear their own choice of swimwear.

    • I really don’t think Jewish people see nit going to the public beach as “waiving their rights” or “segregating themselves.”Separating themselves is also NOT about appeasing gentiles (as the article suggests). These Jews are simply being modest as the Torah requires. We all have free choice. Some choose to be modest. What really demonstrates the difference is that Jewish people go somewhere else to swim and not at the beach, the genders swim separately, and they swim in modest swimwear. I hope that clarifies.

  • The State council states the ban has dealt a serious blow to fundamental liberties such as freedom of conscience and personal liberties. The contrary is true. The approval of the burkinis means inciting terrorism in an unprecedented way.It will be considered by Muslims as a confirmation of their fundamental religious liberties such as killing Infidels, submitting them to Sharia law etc. Being the essential part of Muslim freedom of conscience and personal Liberty.

  • Janice Kenner

    I disapprove of the burkini ban. I disagree with the Rabbis who approve it. They are telling the Muslems that they cannot be both Muslem and French. This is not the way to live in peace. They are not imposing their laws on non Muslems, just trying to observe their own religious laws.

  • There’s nothing wrong with wearing a burkini,kippa or the way I wrap my scarf versus the way the Muslim women do. There can be security problems in hiding a face, and wearing large garb that can be hiding bombs. But a burkini on the beach or in the pool, I wear something similar!

  • Jay Lavine

    Why was it that the generation of Jews who fled slavery in Egypt were not allowed to enter Eretz Yisrael? One explanation is that they had a slave mentality, which would not have allowed them to succeed in the establishment of their new homeland.

    Similarly, I am going to hypothesize that some European Jews, having lived under Christian domination for so long, may be unable to think of themselves as people who should be allowed to exercise their free will at all times with regard to their religious observance and customs. This may be the explanation for their siding with the French authorities who sought to prevent religious Muslim women from dressing modestly in accordance with their beliefs.

  • Jonah

    Yes it will be considered war on Islam and I can guarantee you the French government and the French people will be on the losing end of any attempt to enforce it. Islam kills for religious principles without regard for their life. Most of the French have been brainwashed by the left for so long they will not step on an ant. Islam has a focus. The west inevitably finds them self in a situation of not knowing what bathroom to use from day to day or whether to wear a dress or jeans….this will be a turkey shoot for Isis.

  • Jay Lavine

    Dina d’malchuta dina has applied primarily to financial matters, such as paying taxes. But it does mean respecting the law of the land in other ways as well. Nevertheless, obeying the law does not mean that one should not protest or oppose a law that is unfair or discriminatory. Therefore, dina d’malchuta dina cannot be used as the basis for supporting the anti-burkini law.

    I am reminded of a prominent rabbi in mid-19th century America who held that slavery was acceptable. Of course, slavery is not outlawed by the Tanach, although neither did the Tanach support it. It merely sought to regulate it. His condoning of slavery on a biblical basis was unfortunate, I think.

    Yes, Jews have frequently had to compromise themselves in the societies in which they lived. But is it right that they felt the need to do so? Clearly not. People should be allowed personal religious expression so long as it does not step on anyone else. Therefore, I can’t see how Jewish compromises in the past could possibly be taken as a reason to support the burkini ban. Now if we’re talking about security matters, such as hiding one’s identity or hiding weapons, that is another matter altogether.

    In summary, I’m disappointed that some of the French Jews have failed to support the right of Muslim women to follow their beliefs regarding modesty.

  • ART

    Wearing of burkahs, najib etc is more than a sign of modesty it is a political statement. As we have seen in English schools it becomes a requirement on others to dress and act accordingly, it is a movement to declare superiority Similarly they have banned non halal foods where they have gained control. Islam is submission and the goal is to have others submit. As they clearly state the objective is to apply sharia law over national or secular law