Debating Israel’s Conversion Crisis

One of the most persistent problems faced by the Jewish state has revolved around conversion to Judaism, which is governed by the Orthodox chief rabbinate. While many criticize this institution for making the bar to conversion too high, others have argued that conversions sanctioned by the chief rabbinate are frequently shams, where the prospective converts pretend to pledge themselves to a life of unfailing commitment to the laws of the Torah, and the rabbinic court pretends to believe them. In an in-depth discussion of these issues, Mosheh Lichtenstein and David Stav—both prominent Orthodox Zionist rabbis—find themselves exploring the very meaning of Jewishness in the modern state of Israel. (Moderated by Shlomo Brody. Video, 81 minutes.)


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How the U.S. Is Financing Bashar al-Assad

Due to a long history of supporting terrorism and having waged a brutal and devastating war on its own people, the Syrian regime is subject to numerous U.S. sanctions. But that doesn’t stop American tax dollars from going to President Bashar al-Assad and his cronies, via the United Nations. David Adesnik explains:

UN agencies have spent $95.5 million over the past eight years to house their staff at the Four Seasons Damascus, including $14.2 million last year. New Yorkers know good hotel rooms don’t come cheap, but the real problem in Damascus is that the Four Seasons’ owners are the Assad regime itself and one of the war profiteers who manages the regime’s finances.

The hotel would likely go under if not for UN business; Damascus is not a tourist destination these days. The UN claims keeping its staff at the Four Seasons is about keeping them safe. Yet there has been little fighting in Damascus since 2017. A former UN diplomat with experience in the Syrian capital told me the regime tells UN agencies it can only guarantee the safety of their staff if they stay at the Four Seasons.

What makes the Four Seasons debacle especially galling is that it’s been public knowledge for seven years, and the UN has done nothing about it—or the many other ways the regime siphons off aid for its own benefit. One of the most lucrative is manipulating exchange rates. . . . One of Washington’s top experts on humanitarian aid crunched the numbers and concluded the UN lost $100 million over eighteen months to this kind of rate-fixing.

What the United States and its allies should do is make clear to the UN they will turn off the spigot if the body doesn’t get its act together.

Read more at New York Post

More about: Bashar al-Assad, Syria, U.S. Foreign policy, United Nations