Prime Minister Netanyahu weighs in

The Court conversion ruling and the elections

Non-Orthodox conversion and the Supreme Court are playing a key role in these elections, especially in the election propaganda of the ultra-Orthodox parties.

Bark Mitzvah, source: FlickrBark Mitzvah, source: Flickr

We have written about the obscene reactions to the ruling; the ultra-Orthodox parties describe this as a situation in which Israel is on the verge of a Reform takeover! According to them, Reform Jews are doing this with the active assistance of the Supreme Court. Therefore, strengthening the ultra-Orthodox parties is a mission to save Judaism, and the threat also requires silencing and tying the hands of the Supreme Court. The ultra-Orthodox parties present both issues as preconditiond for their entry into a government coalition after the election.

Both of the ultra-Orthodox parties are attempting to scare the public in regards to non-Orthodox converts and to harm to the Court; and, unfortunately and surprisingly, also the Prime Minister. In the first days after the verdict, Benjamin Netanyahu chose to refrain from commenting on it, although his Likud party criticized the ruling, as we reported in the previous newsletter. However, after a few days [March 10] the Jerusalem Post reported the following interview with the Prime Minister, in which he emphasized that:

“[If I did not build the fence along the border with Egypt] We would have had here already a million illegal migrants from Africa, and the Jewish state would have collapsed.”

In this context, he answers the journalist’s question regarding the conversion ruling:

“Regarding the recent decision by the High Court of Justice to recognize conversions performed in Israel by the Reform and Conservative movements for the purpose of receiving citizenship under the Law of Return, Netanyahu said he was concerned about ‘fake conversions that could enter the country ... we have to protect and prevent fake conversions that could enter the country. You know a lot of people want to come into the country.’”

The only fictitious converts discovered in Israel to date have been Orthodox, including cases in which city rabbis and Chief Rabbis of Israel received bribes in connection with conversion. Those, of course, are conversions that Netanyahu and the religious parties do not intend to block.

Such things are very disturbing, especially when they come from the mouth of the Prime Minister. The only fictitious converts discovered in Israel to date have been Orthodox, including cases in which city rabbis and Chief Rabbis of Israel received bribes in connection with conversion. Those, of course, are conversions that Netanyahu and the religious parties do not intend to block. No one has ever shown, apart from the false accusations of the spokesmen of the ultra-Orthodox parties and their political partners, any examples of Reform or Conservative conversion courts receiving bribes for quick and fictitious conversions.

The Prime Minister's remarks are also represented in an extreme way by the ultra-Orthodox parties, who attack both Reform Judaism and the Supreme Court. Click here to see a cartoon, which was published in the official newspaper of Shas, ‘ha-Derekh’ [on 4.3.21]. It shows the judges of the Supreme Court ruling to recognize non-Orthodox converts for the purpose of the Law of Return, and in front of them is an image of the judges interfering in the elections by allowing gentiles [including Arabs] to land in Israel, immediately obtain citizenship, and vote at the ballot box to change the government in Israel. On the side of the cartoon is printed the Shas logo, and it includes an attack on the Reform movement and a description of its purpose: “To sow destruction and venom in the integrity of the vineyard of the house of Israel.”

As stated, the attack by the ultra-Orthodox parties is against both the Reform movement and the Supreme Court. In the same issue of the Shas newspaper, for example, an article was published by the political correspondent on the “dangerous method of the Supreme Court,” which is purely a crude and unbridled attack on the Court:

The Supreme Court has gnawed more and more at the walls of Judaism, in a systematic and orderly fashion, it laid brick upon brick the torturous path that led to this despicable decision... The Supreme Court systematically, time after time, touches those open wounds at the heart of Israeli society, and with trampling, devoid of any sensitivity or understanding, it digs its claws into them and tears a wider and deeper tear in the people of Israel... And deepens the rift within the people, the division and polarization, and increases the flames of hatred between the populations and sectors of Israel... The bitter experience from the activist, trampling performances of the Supreme Court and its panel of judges, inflated with self-importance, proves that nothing will satisfy their unbridled lust to destroy and harm all that is sacred and precious to the Jewish people...

... [On the subject of the conscription law] The Supreme Court, in its impudence and audacity, time after time, interfered in the matter and forced the state to determine things like the "Tal Law". The ultra-Orthodox public was not satisfied with that law. The arrangement worked, the law functioned, but why would the judges of the Supreme Court let go of their prey? ... After ten years during which the law existed and functioned, the Supreme Court judges decided to void it... The elected representatives can work for many years, discuss, debate, reach compromises and agreements, and the Supreme Court will just throw everything into the trash. Later, the Supreme Court did not even try to create the appearance of serious deliberation and minimal respect for the public’s representatives... Even Lapid's law, which first stated, in a shameful move, that a Torah student in the State of Israel could be a criminal offender, subject to criminal sanctions – this, too, did not satisfy the “Napoleon Complex” of the Supreme Court judges.

They would have done the exact same thing on the subject of conversion. They would not have accepted any outline or law, not even the most lenient, the most compromising. Even now they will not stop; they are already planning the next criminal ruling, to hurt even more, to destroy even more, which will erase a little more of the little bit of Jewish identity left in this country.

Because Supreme Court judges are not looking for compromises, not seeking consents, do not seek to create a broad common denominator among the people. They want the complete opposite, to dominate with force and predation their extreme minority opinion*, and undermine the inner resilience of the Jewish people. “This is the way of them that are foolish” (Ps. 49:14)… The only response to the Supreme Court is to cause the power of Torah and holiness in Israel to increase... Until we have the power and ability to stop once and for all, with no compromises and no interim proposals, the debased trampling of the Supreme Court judges...

*EDITORIAL NOTE: It is customary for the ultra-Orthodox spokespeople and their political allies to describe views promoting religious freedom and equality as “extreme minority”, while all studies, including the consistent surveys commissioned by Hiddush point to the opposite – namely, that religious freedom & equality is supported by the overwhelming majority of Israeli Jews.

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