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Shas’ New Terror Threat: Non-Orthodox Converts

Ultra-Orthodox Shas Chairman Eli Yishai identifies a new terrorist threat against Israel: the Israeli Supreme Court and its recent decision to recognise gentile converts to non-Orthodox forms of Judaism as eligible for Israeli citizenship. As quoted in Haaretz, the ruling is an

explosives belt that has brought about a suicide attack against the Jewish people.

That was yesterday; in today’s Haaretz the statement is translated slightly differently:

…explosives belt that has formed an identity terror attack against the Jewish people.

Pretty lurid either way, but fairly commonplace stuff from the Israeli far-right – when I visited the Yad Vashem Holocaust museum in Jerusalem a few years ago I heard a guide say that Jews marrying non-Jews was “the second Holocaust”. Shas has previously railed against Russian Israelis, many of whom are nominal Jews whom local Shas leaders in Bet Shemesh characterised as

hundreds of thousands of Gentiles flooding the land with pork, prostitution, impurity and filth.

Haaretz also reports the reactions of the two Chief Rabbis to the new Supreme Court decision:

Sephardi Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar said parents who want to make sure their children don’t marry people who are not considered Jewish by Orthodox standards will have to create their own lists of families that are “not suspected of intermarriage.”

…Ashkenazi Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger said “it is hard for us to recognize those who turned into Jews in a leap, just as it is difficult to recognize a doctor who became a doctor in just one day.”

Hardly a fair description of the Reform conversion process, which can be read about here (and I assume the same can be said for Conservative Judaism). And perhaps Metzger ought to have a word with his predecessor Israel Lau, who had no problem with such “leaps”. As was reported back in 2002 (original gone; reposted here):

The Ha’aretz newspaper’s weekend magazine of July 19 carried a cover story about 90 Indians from villages tucked far up in the remote mountains of Peru who had been converted to Judaism in Lima in a record two weeks. They were then flown to Israel where they were sent directly to two Israeli settlements on the West Bank, Alon Shvut and Karmei Tzur, where they will study in yeshivah and pray, at the state’s expense, for the messiah to arrive.

The 90, constituting 18 family units, remarkably, were converted by an official rabbinical delegation sent from Israel with the blessings of Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi Israel Lau.

Conversion is supposed to take one to two years; and as it happens, a court case involving fast-track Orthodox conversions concluded just last month:

The Tel Aviv District Court acquitted a rabbi yesterday who was charged with accepting bribes in order to speed up conversions…[Rabbi Binyamin] Bar-Zohar and Rabbi Michael Dushinsky, 59, of Petah Tikva, were charged three years ago.

…Dushinsky, the kashrut supervisor in the Labor Ministry, was filmed by a hidden camera on a Channel 2 TV program, allegedly accepting a bribe. He then allegedly passed some of the money on to Bar-Zohar, who used his connections to facilitate the conversion.

Dushinsky left the country and proceedings against him were stopped.

Meanwhile, Palestinian refugees who wish to exercise their legal right to return to their homes in Israel proper continue to be ignored…

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