Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Who's A Jew?

I had read this story on ABC News and was surprised that I had not seen it anywhere else - especially the right-wing blogs and news portals.  According to an article by Simon McGregor-Wood, the Israeli cabinet is considering a law change that will grant orthodox rabbis in Israel almost complete control in the determination of who would be recognized as being Jewish and who wouldn't, which could affect other things such as citizenship.
The law again raises the issue of who is a Jew. It would give orthodox rabbis in Israel almost exclusive control over Jewish conversions, allowing them to determine who is recognized as Jewish and who can get married or buried in Israel as a Jew.

The scope of the bill has caused a furor among more liberal Jews from the Reform and Conservative movements that represent the majority of Jews living outside Israel.

People who are recognized as Jews under Reform and Conservative rules are now accepted in Israel and can become citizens. If this bill passes their identity as Jews may be questioned.

Rabbi David Saperstein from the Religious Action Center in Washington DC is in Israel campaigning against the law.

"It would be an enormous blow to the unity of the Jewish people and the principle of religious freedom in Israel, " he told the Associated Press. "The message will be sent out that the government of Israel does not accept our rabbis and our movement as legitimate."
Why do I find the absence of mention of this law on conservative sites interesting?  Because time and time again, conservatives claimed to be the true friends of the Jews, and not Israelis, but they had claimed to be looking out for American Jewish interests as well.  I am glad to see Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu come out against the proposal, but where are the Republicans who are making that same criticism?

A commenter on the ABC article, coriander21, said it best: "If the Knesset upholds the radical sectarianism of its orthodox bloc, it demonstrates it's no different from the radical Islamic theocracies which surround the State of Israel and will definitely succeed in alienating the majority of American Jews."

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