Marriage and Conversion in the State of Israel

March 12 2015

In Israel, the chief rabbinate is responsible for matters pertaining to marriage and conversion to Judaism. Among the problems resulting from this system is the fact that many Israeli citizens of partial Jewish ancestry, who are recognized as Jews by Israel’s law of return but not by the rabbinate, find it difficult to marry. David Stav and Seth Farber, two rabbis who have devoted much effort to addressing these issues, discuss a bill on the subject recently passed by the Knesset and possibilities for further reform. (Moderated by Shlomo Brody; video, 90 minutes.)

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Read more at Tikvah Fund

More about: Civil marriage, Conversion, Israel & Zionism, Israeli Chief Rabbinate, Judaism in Israel, Religion & Holidays

Why Is Iran Acquiring Property in Venezuela?

In June Tehran and Caracas concluded a major twenty-year cooperation treaty. One of its many provisions—kept secret until recently—was the transfer of 4,000 square miles of Venezuelan land to Iranian control. Although the territory is ostensibly for agricultural use, Lawrence Franklin suspects the Islamic Republic might have other plans:

Hizballah already runs paramilitary training centers in restricted sections of Venezuela’s Margarita Island, a tourist area northeast of the country’s mainland. The terrorist group has considerable support from some of Venezuela’s prominent Lebanese clans such as the Nasr al-Din family, who reportedly facilitated Iran’s penetration of Margarita Island. . . . The Maduro regime has apparently been so welcoming to Iranian intelligence agents that some of Hizballah’s long-established Latin American network at the tri-border nexus of Brazil, Argentina, and Paraguay has been overtaken by Hizballah activities on Venezuela’s Margarita Island.

Iran’s alliance with Venezuela most importantly provides Tehran with opportunities to target U.S. interests in Latin America and potentially the southern United States. Iran, along with the Chinese Communist Party, is in the process of strengthening Venezuela’s military against the U.S., for instance by deliveries of military drones, which are also considered a threat by Colombia.

While air and seaborne arms deliveries are high-profile evidence of Iran’s ties with Venezuela, Tehran’s cooperation with Venezuelan intelligence agencies, although less visible, is also intense. The Islamic Republic’s support for Hizballah terrorist operations is pervasive throughout Latin America. Hizballah recruits from Venezuela’s ten-million-strong Lebanese diaspora. Iran and Hizballah cooperate in training of intelligence agents and in developing sources who reside in Venezuela and Colombia, as well as in the tri-border region of Brazil, Paraguay, and Argentina.

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More about: Iran, Latin America, Venezuela