What the Israeli Supreme Court’s Conversion Ruling Means, and Why It Matters

March 2 2021

After letting the question remain unsettled for some time—apparently in the hope that the Knesset would take action—Israel’s high court yesterday ordered the government to recognize conversions to Judaism conducted by Reform and Conservative rabbis inside the country. Haviv Rettig Gur explains what’s at stake, beginning with what the decision doesn’t do:

[The ruling] does not require the ḥaredi-controlled state rabbinate to recognize Reform and Conservative conversions. Only the Interior Ministry must do so. And . . . the Interior Ministry has for two decades formally accepted Reform and Conservative conversions conducted overseas as conferring the right to citizenship under the Law of Return.

Monday’s ruling is, in a sense, very narrow. It instructs the Interior Ministry (but not the rabbinate) to recognize as Jewish for the purposes of immigration (but for no other purposes, such as marriage or burial) only those few Reform and Conservative conversions conducted each year inside Israel. That’s the change.

While the number of people affected by the ruling is very small, Gur explains that its repercussions are likely to be great, for two reasons:

First, in recognizing, for the first time, [non-Orthodox] conversions done inside Israel, the state of Israel will necessarily be recognizing in a formal way the Reform and Conservative movements themselves, the institutions that are doing or have done the converting. Second, coming just 22 days before the election, the ruling promises to become a rallying cry for religious conservatives and liberals alike.

Very little is likely to change in the life of Reform and Conservative converts because of Monday’s ruling. But Israel itself will change. If the ruling stands, it will mark a watershed in state recognition for Jewish religious options long rejected by Orthodox political parties and the state rabbinic apparatus.

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Read more at Times of Israel

More about: Conservative Judaism, Conversion, Israeli Election 2021, Israeli Supreme Court, Judaism in Israel, Reform Judaism

Is the Attempt on Salman Rushdie’s Life Part of a Broader Iranian Strategy?

Aug. 18 2022

While there is not yet any definitive evidence that Hadi Matar, the man who repeatedly stabbed the novelist Salman Rushdie at a public talk last week, was acting on direct orders from Iranian authorities, he has made clear that he was inspired by Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s call for Rushdie’s murder, and his social-media accounts express admiration for the Islamic Republic. The attack also follows on the heels of other Iranian attempts on the lives of Americans, including the dissident activist Masih Alinejad, the former national security advisor John Bolton, and the former secretary of state Mike Pompeo. Kylie Moore-Gilbert, who was held hostage by the mullahs for over two years, sees a deliberate effort at play:

It is no coincidence this flurry of Iranian activity comes at a crucial moment for the hitherto-moribund [nuclear] negotiations. Iranian hardliners have long opposed reviving the 2015 deal, and the Iranians have made a series of unrealistic and seemingly ever-shifting demands which has led many to conclude that they are not negotiating in good faith. Among these is requiring the U.S. to delist the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps in its entirety from the State Department’s list of terror organizations.

The Biden administration and its European partners’ willingness to make concessions are viewed in Tehran as signals of weakness. The lack of a firm response in the shocking attack on Salman Rushdie will similarly indicate to Tehran that there is little to be lost and much to be gained in pursuing dissidents like Alinejad or so-called blasphemers like Sir Salman on U.S. soil.

If we don’t stand up for our values when under attack we can hardly blame our adversaries for assuming that we have none. Likewise, if we don’t erect and maintain firm red lines in negotiations our adversaries will perhaps also assume that we have none.

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Read more at iNews

More about: Iran, Terrorism, U.S. Foreign policy