June 27, 2017

THE EXISTENTIAL THREAT IS INTERNAL:

Netanyahu's unexpected confrontation with US Jews (Mazal Mualem, June 27, 2017, Al Monitor)

A deep rift has been emerging in that relationship since June 25. In fact, that rift is so deep that there has never been anything like it in the relationship between the Jews of the United States and the Israeli government. The unrest was instigated by two volatile moves supported by Netanyahu. The first was a surprising decision that the prime minister brought before his Cabinet, suspending the Western Wall compromise, approved by the government in January 2016. This compromise involved the creation of a mixed-gender prayer space at the Western Wall, which would allow all denominations of Judaism to pray there.

The American Jewish community faced a second blow soon after that when the Ministerial Committee on Legislation approved the Conversion Law, circumventing a Supreme Court ruling and placing exclusive authority over conversions in the hands of the Chief Rabbinate. (To be enacted, the bill would have to be adopted by Knesset plenum.) Conversions performed by Reform and Conservative rabbis in Israel and abroad would not be recognized, and their converts would not be eligible for Israeli citizenship based on the Law of Return. This law offers all Jews -- either by birth or conversion -- Israeli citizenship upon arriving in Israel.

These two steps were rightfully deemed a major victory for the ultra-Orthodox parties. They got the prime minister to surrender to their demands and dragged him into an unprecedented crisis with the American Jewish community, most of which is identified with Reform and Conservative Judaism.

Posted by at June 27, 2017 5:11 PM

  

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