October 30, 2018

IT'S NOT THAT AMERICANS AREN'T JEWS BUT THAT THEY ARE AMERICAN:

What Israel Owes American Jews (Michael B. Oren, Oct. 29, 2018, NY Times)

[O]rthodox and Ultra-Orthodox parties wield enormous political weight in our parliamentary system. Their support gives Israeli coalitions the stability necessary to grapple with our complex social and security challenges. Confronted with Orthodox opposition to the liberal American Jewish streams, Israeli governments must often choose between acknowledging their legitimacy and effectively managing and defending the state. Accordingly, not only our current government but also every coalition going back to 1948, right and left, has refrained from recognizing the Reform and Conservative movements.

Another reason for the current situation is longstanding disagreements over core Jewish issues. For decades, the world's two largest Jewish communities differed over the definition of "who's a Jew" -- the Israeli government hews to the traditional requirement of matrilineal descent and Orthodox conversions, while liberal American congregations admit members born only of Jewish fathers and even those unwilling to undergo any conversion -- so-called Jews of choice.

More recently, numerous American Jews supported the Iran nuclear deal, which Israelis viewed as disastrous to our security, and opposed moving the American Embassy to Jerusalem, celebrated by Israelis as a long-awaited acceptance of our eternal capital.

These schisms and more have eroded the willingness of many Israeli legislators to please American Jews at the price of political instability. The June 2017 decision by the Israeli government to withdraw from those parts of the Western Wall agreement that would have guaranteed equal status for all the streams at our holiest site reflected this tension.



Posted by at October 30, 2018 4:07 AM

  

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