In 1997, amidst controversies over whether Israel, and the Israeli rabbinate, would recognize non-Orthodox conversions to Judaism, Israeli political and religious figures together with representatives of the major American denominations concluded a complex compromise that, although never made law, has governed policy de facto ever since. A bill recently before the Knesset would upend this compromise by solidifying the control over conversions exercised by the ultra-Orthodox-dominated Israeli chief rabbinate. Responding to outrage from American Jewish leaders, Prime Minister Netanyahu has shelved the bill—which seemed poised to pass—for six months. But, as Haviv Rettig Gur explains, the proposed legislation is a response to a conflict between the chief rabbinate and a group of Israeli Modern Orthodox rabbis—a conflict that is unlikely to go away.
A Knesset Bill on Conversion Puts Issues of Synagogue and State to the Test
The Real Palestinian Refugee Problem, and Mahmoud Abbas’s Indifference
Of the millions of so-called Palestinian refugees the world over, most are in fact not refugees by any standard definition, but are properly speaking the descendants of refugees, often kept in a permanent state of segregation and dependency by Arab regimes. But as a consequence of the Syrian civil war, numerous Palestinians living in Syria have become actual refugees, fleeing to countries like Lebanon. Khaled Abu Toameh explains their current discontent with the Palestinian Authority (PA) and its leader, Mahmoud Abbas: