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Conversion Bill Takes Aim at Diaspora

Our editor returns fire in the NYT

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The Knesset.(Jim Hollander/AFP/Getty Images)

This morning, Tablet Magazine editor-in-chief Alana Newhouse published a New York Times op-ed about the so-called Rotem Bill, which would give a small coterie of ultra-Orthodox rabbis in Israel the power over all conversions, and by extension over all other rites, and again by extension the power over Jewish religious identity in Israel. Sponsored by a member of the nationalist Yisrael Beiteinu party, the bill, Alana argues, represents a gigantic threat not only to Jewish life in Israel but to the “vital” tie between Israel and the Jewish diaspora:

If this bill passes, future historians will inevitably wonder why, at a critical moment in its history, Israel chose to tell 85 percent of the Jewish diaspora that their rabbis weren’t rabbis and their religious practices were a sham, the conversions of their parents and spouses were invalid, their marriages weren’t legal under Jewish law, and their progeny were a tribe of bastards unfit to marry other Jews.

It’s a sad state of affairs, one this magazine has been covering for at least half of its existence—beginning with a story that Alana alludes to when she mentions “an American Haredi rabbi who had become one of the most powerful authorities on the question of conversion [who] resigned from his organization in December after accusations that he solicited phone sex from a hopeful female convert.” She’s referring to Leib Tropper, whose power, corruption, and lies we investigated last January (and which, frankly, we’ve been mystified about the non-reaction to):

-Allison Hoffman’s profile;

-Marissa Brostoff on one woman’s side of the story;

-Hoffman on the wealthy, possibly crazy heir who bankrolled Tropper;

-Hoffman on how other Haredi rabbis have been reluctant to condemn him;

-Oh, and you can listen to the tapes.

Below, a helpful cheat sheet for Alana’s essay:

• “Even if you are Orthodox—and especially if you are modern Orthodox—your rabbi likely doesn’t make the cut,” Alana writes. “(Don’t believe it? Go ask him.)” An under-covered aspect of this bill is the extent to which, again to use Alana’s words, “the criteria used by the rabbinate are driven by internal Haredi politics, not observance.” Which makes it all the more odd that while the Reform and Conservative movements have spoken out strongly against the bill, as have a host of other American Jewish organizations, Orthodox organizations such as the Orthodox Union and Agudath Israel have been silent.

• The philosophy behind the bill, according to Alana, “is well outside the consensus established by Hillel—arguably the greatest rabbi in all of rabbinic Judaism and whom, as Joseph Telushkin argues in a forthcoming book, was willing to convert a pagan on the spot, simply because he’d asked.” The book in question is Hillel: If Not Now, When?, coming in September from Nextbook Press.

• Your final cheat sheet item? This bill is probably not a good idea.

The Diaspora Need Not Apply [NYT]
Conversion Bill Dismays U.S. Senators [JPost]
Related: Hillel: If Not Now, When? [Nextbook Press]

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yankel says:

Tablet should tell the truth. Its not a small group of “ultra Orthodox” (is there any Ultra Reform-or is that derogatory description only used for Jews who follow the Code of Jewish Law) its Israel Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar, a mild manner and principled man who wants to bring order and standards to conversion. True there are those in the Haridie world pushing harsh standards, but he has stood up to them.
On the other side is the conversion with no standards done by some many liberal rabbis. Marry a Jew, no problem we will take care of everything so Grandma-Bubbe would be upset.

Edwin says:

Newhouse makes a pretty convincing argument against Zionism.

As I read this piece I swear I heard something far off. Perhaps it was G-d laughing? Orthodox choose who are and will be Orthodox. Same for Conservative, Reform, etc. I have this funny feeling that only G-d chooses who is a Jew.

Uno Immoto says:

IF This Bill Passes:
1. WHY would Anyone it determines is Not a Jew –
Defend, Fight For or Support Israel as a Nation?
2. WHY would Anyone it determines is Not a Jew –
Continue practicing Judaism?
3. WHY would Anyone it determines is Not a Jew –
4. WHY does The Author & Supporters of this bill –
Desire to Enact A Holocaust on Yisrael?
5. WHY does The Author & Supporters of this bill –
Desire to MURDER The Spirit of Judaism?
Let These Prideful Men – Reconsider Their Ways of Folley….

rykart says:

If this bill has the effect of further alienating Jews of conscience from the gangster state of Israel and its ongoing abominations, we ought to support it in full.

Alyssa says:

As a convert and an olim I can’t tell you how filled with dread this makes me. As a Masorti I am far more observant then my Orthodox Sabra friends and even my husband. (If it wasn’t for me our children wouldn’t have any Jewish education and if it was up to the majority of the Sabras there would be little Jewish education in Israel)and yet I am somehow less valid. So you mean to tell me that after years of study and a decade of living a Jewish live, after making Alyiah and marring an Israeli someone would honestly have the audacity to look me or my children in the eyes and say sorry your not a Jew. You know, when you convert to Judaism you don’t just make a vow to G-d but also to the Jewish people. I made a promise to follow you no matter where the road took us and I intend to keep it. Whether you like it or not. I have just as much right to be a proud Jew and a proud Israeli as anyone else.

rykart says:

Of course, the far more pertinent question is what to do with 97% of the people we regard as Jewish luminaries and guiding lights in science, mathematics, literature, music, etc who utterly reject the Jewish religion and regard it, as Einstein did, as pure childishness?

Tziporah says:

As a convert who converted after the birth of my 1st child (and not for marriage obviously – we’d been married 2 1/2 years when I converted and my son was converted as well) I find this reprehensible. It is especially ridiculous when you consider the fact that my husband’s cousins all married non-Jews (both the boys and girls). Yet his female cousins have Jewish children despite the fact that they do not believe in or practice any form of Judaism – several of the children are being raised in completely Christian homes. Yet no one argues they are Jews. By contrast we live a life dedicated to Judaism – it took me 5 years of learning and 3 1/2 years of very vigorous study and practice to convert. And we converted under the auspices of an Orthodox rabbi whose conversion of us would not be recognized under these rules. Yet we converted halachally – but that isn’t good enough for the Chief Rabbi? One thing is for sure – if I or my children are not good enough for Israel then neither is my money or my support.

rykart says:

“One thing is for sure – if I or my children are not good enough for Israel then neither is my money or my support.

Why not have the best of both worlds? Embrace and be proud of your Jewishness and tell the vile riff raff of israel to go to hell, as so many Jews of principle already have?

Then you will be going far beyond the grotesque rabbis of Israel by actually putting into practice Jewish values of goodness, tolerance for others, anti-racism and honesty.

It is the ISRAELIS who are the fake Jews, the Jews who have turned their backs on all that it means to be a Jew of character.

” I lived with real Jews, at Harvard, at Chicago, with truly superior people, whom I admired, whom I loved, to whom I did indeed feel inferior and rightly so the vitality in them, the irony in them, the human sympathy, the human tolerance, the goodness of heart that was simply instinctive in them, people with the Jewish sense of survival that was all human, elastic, adaptable, humorous, creative, and all this they have replaced here with a stick! The Golden Calf was more Jewish than Ariel Sharon, God of Samaria and Judea and the Holy Gaza Strip! The worst of the ghetto Jew combined with the worst of the bellicose, belligerent goy, and that is what these people call ‘authentic’! Jews have a reputation for being intelligent, and they are intelligent. The only place I have ever been where all the Jews are stupid is Israel. I spit on them! I spit on them!”

–philip roth

yankel says:

The dilemma of conversion is real and challenging. But at the core of its about serious theological questions. If a rabbi does not believe in the first line of the Ten Commandments, “I am the G-d who took you out of Egypt” as Conservative rabbi David Wolpe did then were is the common ground. How can his conversions be accepted by communities around the world when he rejects the basics of Judaism.

Larry says:

My father told me many years ago that a similar problem occurred upon the repatriation of the Jews of the Babylonian exile. He told me that the rabbinic authorities discussed the issue of “how can they be certain that the returning Jews were indeed Jewish according to halacha as understood at that time when pasts were ambiguous, uncertain?” What would be the remedy?
I defer to those more knowledgable than I.
He told me the remedy would be kesef: money.
RSVP, please.

Rafi says:

The bill really affects only Israeli Jews, not American Jews. More than 65-75% of America’s Jews have never even visited Israel, much less considering emigration. In addition, as with all things in Israeli politics, this,too, will be subjected to compromise and deals. The Orthodox want money and the secular want to be left alone.
Finally, this matter was dealt with by the Israel Supreme Court back in 1962 with the Shalit and Brother Daniel cases, which are worth looking up and reading, since the decisions rendered have not been overturned by the Knesset.
Jews should marry Jews and all those Galut problems will not arise. It is just as easy to love a Jew as a non-Jew. Try showing some loyalty to your people. Otherwise, shut your mouth and stop complaining, especially from the comfort of New York.

rykart says:

“Try showing some loyalty to your people.”

Jews are not a people.

And what does it even mean to be “loyal to Jews?” It’s a meaningless statement. Albert Einstein was a Jew, Bernie Maddoff is a Jew, Netanyahu is a Jew, and Noam Chomsky is a Jew. What have they in common? Not very much.

Be loyal to decent human beings. That’s the only law worth abiding by.

Who’s really Jewish? Who really cares, anymore! Israel’s politics push people away.


Bryna Weiss says:

Roth’s statement is hateful and arrogant!! He condemns an entire country when it is only the far right, the ultra Orthodox who are so blind and stupid and motivated by so called religious principles. The majority of the Isreali people, whom I have visited many times, are kind, compassionate, intelligent, secular and guided by all that is good in Jewish philosophies. What could have happened to him in Israel to make him so vituperative?!

rykart says:

According to the poll conducted by Tel Aviv University, 94% of the “kind, compassionate, intelligent, secular and guided by all that is good” Jews of Israel enthusiastically supported the Gaza massacre.

Polls as to Israeli attitudes toward Arab people, not to mention, the country’s apartheid legal structure are all testament to the deep racism permeating their ugly and stupid society.

mike breen says:

“The Kingdom of Israel was first rent and broken by ill counsel; upon which there are set,for our instruction, the two marks whereby bad counsel is ever best discerned. That it was young counsel for the persons and violent counsel for the matter.” Roger Bacon circa 13th. cent. P.S. ‘there is nothing new under the sun’.,,

Stop Arab Imperalism says:

Newhouse and most of the commenters here are foolish, jumping to conclusions with no sound knowledge of the actual details of the matter, a the bill will has 3 more readings and will end up with no change to the status quo.

Here is more informed commentary from a Hebrew University professor:

A tempest in a teacup.

Bryan says:

Many of the comments here seem to assume that people only convert for the convenience of having a kosher wedding. I began the process of conversion when I was 16 and became a Jew at 19, after three years of study. That was over 20 years ago, and I love Judaism and Israel more than ever. Since, I’ve taught in an after-school Hebrew program while I was in college, where I was also a leader in several Jewish student organizations. Now, I go to my synagogue every week for Shabbat, where I frequently leyn and/or gabbai. I give money to Jewish causes, and I often justify and defend to left-wing non-Jewish friends.

I chose to study and convert with a Conservative rabbi because I felt (and still feel) that Conservative Judaism best represents Jewish tradition and I feel most at home (and a sense of communal prayer) in Conservative services. I believe that Orthodoxy and Charedi streams are a reaction to the Englightenment and modernity and that Conservative Judaism is the historical heir to historical Judaism, which has always grappled with social change and evolved to meet its demands (e.g., development of synagogue life after the destruction of the Temple, chicken being classified as meat so that the poor could have the merit of eating meat on Shabbat, permitting the Deaf and people with disabilities to marry and participate in Jewish ritual, etc.). However, I consider myself a Jew–not a Conservative Jew. And, I enjoy davening in a variety of shuls.

I also believe that pluralism is an essential Jewish value, so I respect the beliefs of others–whether Charedi, Orthodox, Reform, or Secular. The variety of Jewish practice is one of the most beautiful and unique things about Judaism: we may all pray and practice in different ways, but we remain one people. Sadly, this bill has the potential of destorying that sense of unity.

rykart says:

“I also believe that pluralism is an essential Jewish value, so I respect the beliefs of others–whether Charedi, Orthodox, Reform, or Secular. ”

..just as long as they’re not the Arab families being thrown out of their homes and kicked out onto the street for the crime of not being Jewish. That’s where your marvelous sense of pluralism ends, doesn’t it?.

Until religious Jews begin practicing the supposed values of kindness and compassion for all people they always claim Judaism represents, the non-religious among us will look upon their hypocritical pronouncements with revulsion.

sharon says:

Mixing religion and the state do not work. In the case of extremist religion it destroys everything in its wake because it breeds arrogance and ignorance. All we have to do is look at history to see what will happen. Shame that we never learn.

Miriam Freund says:

Israel is not a Haredi State–it is a Jewish State. We come in different colors, from all parts of the world. Judaism is observed somewhat differently in each of those different parts of the world.

Haredi did not invent Judaism nor were they given, by Hashem, the authority to take on the roles of Chief Justices; they believe they are preserving Judaism, not so. They are destroying it. These righteous should review their women’s rights rulings, that always/presently<> are disrespected shamefully.

We are into the 21stC; if still unknown to Haredi, perhaps enlightenment by a ‘goyisher’ calendar would be of great service.

I dont believe there are any true ‘Aryans’ on the face of this planet; the human race has been at war with itself since the beginning of time. So, with invasions/rape, border changes/intermarriages and conversions[Ruth/Naomi], countless migrations= Who is Pure?
Our Bible tells of intermarriages, David/Batsheva, Moses/
Zipora, etc. They were not banned from the Jewish com munity, but have found a place in eternity.

Life has changed==whoever wants to join ranks, should be accepted/respected. Converts make very good Jews. Haredi should be a State of their own, in Israel, to rule as they want.

The 21stC caring Jews, should be concentrating on bringing the younger people, who confess to no identity, into the fold. Xenophobia is a sin–converts make good Jews. We have lots of work to do.

There is no end to discussing this issue; could say more but am bowing out with:::::Adonai is everybody’s God.

rykart says:

I take a different approach. I’m happy to let the reform Jews fight with the conservative Jews. It doesn’t bother me if the Ashkenazi want to be segregated from the Sephardic or if the ultra orthodox want to stone women seeking to pray at the Wailing Wall. Let them all have their endless discussions about the proper way to venerate the Easter Bunny. It’s all so childish.

So then–what is Jewishness, if not rooted in allegiance to the Jewish religion? Who knows? Maybe the concept of Jewishness really hasn’t any meaning at all. I don’t feel threatened by that possibility, though obviously, many Jews do.

Stop Arab Imperalism says:


“Sadly, this bill has the potential of destorying that sense of unity.”

Not really. It won’t affect you at all uness you make aliya. If you make aliya, there are citizenship routes not based on Law of Return. So the only way the issue would affect you is if you make aliya and insist upon the Jewsish designation. In that case:

1. If you read the link I posted above, it is unlikely to reach the floor of the Knesset with much change to the status quo.

2. The worst possible out-come is that you would have to take an ulpan course on orthodox Judaism. That’s no tragedy and in fact might lead to more, not less, understanding between denominations:

US Jews are wrong in their reaction, which is over-blown and pride-filled — and thus contrary to Judaism.

Stop Arab Imperalism says:


“And we converted under the auspices of an Orthodox rabbi whose conversion of us would not be recognized under these rules.”

Your statement is false. The bill in final form is unlikely to change the status quo, which would in fact recognise Orthodox conversions. See my link above to the sdjewishworld article.

Alan Marcy says:

As long as we pretend having tough, manly countries is not a pathetically lame mental fabrication, we will suffer these moronic arguments. It is the way it is. Everybody gotta kill somebody, right? I have breathed war and death, they are the same on both sides of the mirror. The human party is forever starting – I am just leaving. Luck will continue to stumble around in the dark. No one can catch it nor kill it. But we try. Sometimes I cry. It does not help, much, but it is nice not to feel totally dead, just yet.

Bryan says:

To rykart:

a) you don’t know anything about my politics, so you’re statement that I don’t believe in pluralism for non-Jews is based on unfounded assumptions. I’m a strong supporter of Israel, and have also been a strong supporter of a Palestinian state. Beliefs informed by my own values (partly the result of being 1/4 Native American) and by Judaism’s.

Additionally, you do know that more Jews were displaced from Arab and Muslim countries upon Israeli independence than Arabs being displaced from Israel?

b) in another post, you imply that perhaps being Jewish doesn’t mean anything. If that were true, then why are you reading a magazine devoted to Jewish culture and commenting on posts?

Bryan says:

To “Stop Arab Imperialism”:

I’m not talking about my own potential to make Aliyah. I neither want an Orthodox conversion (I don’t want to give authority over my religious and cultural affiliation to a group whose beliefs I don’t share; I disagree with their stance on women’s participation in religious life and LBGT issues, among others) nor to live in an Israel that doesn’t consider me Jewish enough.

I’m talking about a legislative move that essentially deligitimizes the authority of non-Orthodox clergy, which will ultimately splinter Judaism. Orthodoxy will become like the Catholic church, which considers itself the one, true universal church; and non-Orthodox will be equivalent to Protestants. Or maybe, the Orthodox will become like the Samaritans and Karaites, or vice versa.

Stop Arab Imperalism says:

Bryan, good response to rykart (who is appraently Tablet’s resident Jew-hater).

amyiniowa says:

Ridiculous. And irrelevant in America. I have no trouble telling them to go to hell; why should anyone else here?

Alana paints a picture that has most of American Judaism converts and children of intermarriages, non-Jewish mothers. This is not what I see anywhere on the landscape. So I don’t know what her hysteria’s about, anyway.

And trust me, I have no plans to move to Israel. I have enough trouble here. I suspect my decision will not make Israelis cry.

Stop Arab Imperalism says:


“I’m not talking about my own potential to make Aliyah. I neither want an Orthodox conversion (I don’t want to give authority over my religious and cultural affiliation to a group whose beliefs I don’t share; I disagree with their stance on women’s participation in religious life and LBGT issues, among others) nor to live in an Israel that doesn’t consider me Jewish enough.”

So don’t live in Israel. Nobody’s forcing you to. But have the decency to leave Israel’s sovereign decisions on immigration to Israel, to Israel’s democratic process. Foreigners have no more right to tell Israel what its immigration policy should be, than has Mexico to demand the USA legalise undocumented Mexicans.

“I’m talking about a legislative move that essentially deligitimizes the authority of non-Orthodox clergy, which will ultimately splinter Judaism.”

No it won’t. Orthodox conversions have been the status quo in Israel/Palestne since Ottoman times, and both Israel and Judaism are still with us. [The habit of delegating pessonal status matters to each religion’s authorities, arose from Mandate law, which the British simply held over from the Ottoman millet system. India too held over this British habit, but you see few diaspoa Indians demonising India.]

Stop Arab Imperalism says:

amyiniowa, good points. “Hysteria” is indeed the operative word in the American Jewish attitude.

rykart says:

Hi Bryan

Quite right–I don’t know your politics, though the hateful, racist politics of the Israelis—a disgrace to all Jews and a source of international outrage for the rest of the world—are certainly no secret. The degree of vile racism and genocidal superiority is directly proportional to the depth of religious sentiment, with the lunatic, tefillin-wearing settler psychopaths typically the worst offenders.

Point 2 is highly debatable. The case is always made by pro-Israel zealots that Jews were evicted en masse from this or that Arab country but the evidence is shaky at best. In many cases, Jews who had been living in peace and security in Arab lands became persona non grata following Israel’s ethnic cleanings and other assorted abominations. Hardly surprising.

Be that as it may, people have an inalienable right to return to lands they were expelled from, at least, following UN legal decisions to that effect. Obviously, that includes Jews, though I know of no movement of Jews to return to these lands, so the point is really moot.

As to Iran, the country that is planning a second shoah against Jews, (if you believe the hysterical rubbish foisted on us by the pro-Israel contingent).. they host the second largest Jewish population in the Mid East after Israel. Iranian Jews have a long and distinguished history, are not subject to pogroms or anything of the sort, come and go freely, shop at kosher groceries in Tehran and have zero interest in migrating to Israel, despite the incessant bribes Israel has extended in order to try to buy their national identity out from under them. Indeed, the council of Iranian Jews didn’t take kindly to these efforts and sent the Israelis a letter essentially telling them to go to hell. These Jews, along with the millions of non-Jewish Iranians, live their lives under murderous threat from the filth of Israel, who have been overtly plotting a violent attack on their country.

Stop Arab Imperalism says:

Iranian Jews are brutally subjugated. That’s why 90% of them fled Iran despite their 2,500-year history (one millenium before Islam). The kavkaz are also Jews who fled Iran.

Why is rykart allowed to force his anti-Semitic filth upon Jewish readers?

Stop Arab Imperalism says:

“Jews who had been living in peace and security in Arab lands”

A revisionist lie. Jews have never lived in peace and security in Arab lands; they have always been subjugated, subject to confiscations, pogroms, and dhimmitude.

Stop Arab Imperalism says:

The extensive history of Islamic anti-Semitism is covered thoroughly in the books of Andrew Bostom and Bat Ye’or.

Stop Arab Imperalism says:

“Be that as it may, people have an inalienable right to return to lands they were expelled from”

No, they don’t.

Greece and Turkey exchanged populations, India and Pakistan exchanged populations, and Israel and the Muslim world exchanged populations. That cannot be undone; Israel will make sure of that.

rykart says:

Our resident islamophobe hurls a lot of predictable nonsense, not a jot of which he can support with any documentation.

The fact that many Jews who once lived in Arab lands may have found a more welcoming environment in Israel does absolutely nothing to prove that they were forcibly evicted, ethnically cleansed from their homes, as the Palestinians were by the Israelis, through a series of well-documented terror operations involving widespread MASSACRE and RAPE (this, according to Israel’s own military archives, unearthed and reviewed by Israeli historians like Benny Morris).

“Iranian Jews are brutally subjugated.”

Sure. That’s why they stay there, despite Israel offering them lucrative bribes to abandon their homeland.

The Iranian Jews drive Israel nuts. How are you going to convince the world of Iran’s seething Jew hatred when their Jewish population lives there quite happily, is free to leave whenever they please but nevertheless and despite all enticements. chooses not to?

Keep the Israelo-Nazi garbage coming. It’s funny.

Stop Arab Imperalism says:

“That’s why they stay there”

They don’t. 90% have left. The remaining are mostly too old to start over. In addition they are prevented from leaving by the fact that

– they lose their income the moment they apply to emigrate
– they would leave penniless
– the government won’t give exit visas to the whole family at once, so one poor family member would be stuck there to die alone and penniless.

The vast majority of Iranian Jews long ago fled Iran for Israel (250,000) or the USA (80,000).

rykart says:

Utter crap.

The ME Forum site is a huge joke. They start by quoting an Egyptian stating a truism, namely that the partitioning of Palestine is not going to be terribly beneficial to Jewish-Arab relations in the region. The author tries, in a silly fashion, to impart some sinister meaning to this straightforward observation. Then he says yup..sure enough–quick as a wink “Muslims engaged in outrages against Jews living in Aden and Aleppo.6″

What does footnote 6 link to??????


That’s the source.


You plan on continuing this demented clown act pal, or would you rather move right on to plan B–trying to get the moderator to eliminate someone who is tearing your dumb Nazi arguments to pieces?

Stop Arab Imperalism says:

Then go to Israel and talk to Iranian Jews. They know what to do with schmendriks like you.

Stop Arab Imperalism says:

Sad Fate of Iran’s Jews

“The motive behind such conversions might be seen as an attempt to lead a peaceful life in predominantly Muslim Iranian society. Through such conversions, Jews were able to get different jobs, interact, trade and live more freely.”

Stop Arab Imperalism says:
Anti-Semitism on the Iranian Internet

Stop Arab Imperalism says:

“trying to get the moderator to eliminate someone who is tearing your dumb Nazi arguments to pieces”

Actually, a revisionist apologist like yourself, accusing Jews of being Nazis over and over on a Jewish site, ought indeed to be banned.

Tablet apprently does not understand that anti-Semites like Rykart drive away Jewish readers.

Stop Arab Imperalism says:
Iranian Anti-Semitism at Frankfurt Book Fair

Stop Arab Imperalism says:

The long history of Iranian anti-Semitism:

Stop Arab Imperalism says:
“Iranian radio revives Papal-Jewish conspiracy theories”

Stop Arab Imperalism says:
Stop Arab Imperalism says:

“The upheaval in Iran today only reinforces the long hard reality that the Jews still living in Iran are essentially hostages of the regime! The not only place their own lives at risk but they also serve as the perfect scapegoats and propaganda tools for Iran’s radical Islamic regime to abuse at any time.”

rykart says:

Obviously, Israel’s disgusting behavior increases enmity toward Jews–in Iran and everywhere else in the world. Nothing all that surprising about it, when one considers that the behavior of a tiny handful of Islamic extremists has been enough to provoke a steady and nauseating outpouring of anti-Arab racism, of which “stop Arab Imperialism’s” ludicrous posts are merely symptomatic.

Today, Israel is the leading cause of anti-Semitism. That’s one of many reasons that Israel is the sworn enemy of the Jewish people.

Getting back to reality, the case that Jews in the modern era faced the sort of forced expulsions, punctuated by massacres and rapes that the Palestinians faced at the hands of Israelis remains a silly, dishonest fantasy. No documentation can be found to support it. Further, if it did happen, the Jewish victims are entitled to compensation AND the right of return. The law on this point is unambiguous no matter what certain practiced liars and frauds have to say about the matter.

Stop Arab Imperalism says:

Excerpts from the longer, more thorough article at:

“The silence, therefore, of the Iranian Jewish community inside Iran concerning discrimination and persecution is in itself evidence of the dangerous and precarious situation the community finds itself in and which it is unable to denounce without breaking its contractual agreement as a religious minority living in a Muslim land. … After the arrest of 13 Jews in Shiraz and Isfahan in March of 1999 on trumped up charges of spying for Israel and the United States, the Iranian Jewish Community leaders inside Iran (Parviz Yeshaya, Manouchehr Eliasi and Maurice Motamed) not only did not inform anyone on the outside world about the situation but became enforcers of silence asking Iranian Jewish leaders outside of Iran to remain silent as well. …

” Iranian Jewish leaders in the United States who have been brave enough to speak out have repeatedly been threatened by Iranian agents that their life and the life of their loved ones are in danger because of their decision to speak out and that they should stay silent.

“The threat of retaliation against the entire community is an ever present factor in the minds of Iranian Jews and all community leaders. The Islamic Republic reminds Iranian Jews of their uncertain fate and future from time to time in speeches that are delivered by the leaders of the regime.

“According to a well-researched paper in Farsi (which has never been translated to English due to lack of funding) by Faryar Nikbakht (whose work is perhaps the only source for a researcher on anti-Semitism in today’s Iran), the Iranian Ministry of Intelligence coordinates much of the anti-Semitic propaganda in the Iranian press.

“In January 1993, the government-controlled daily, Kayhan revived the so-called blood libel according to which the Jews are accused of killing non Jewish children to use their blood to bake their Passover matzoh.”

Stop Arab Imperalism says:

“A large part of the anti-Semitic campaign waged by the government takes place in Farsi to not raise attention of the non-Farsi speaking world. For example, when some specifically anti-Semitic articles appear in Farsi newspapers with wide distribution, the articles are omitted from their international edition and from the website of those newspapers.

“The Jews suffer from official inferior status under Iranian Law and are not protected by police or the courts.

“In practice this means that a life of a Jew in Iran has very little value. In addition, since Iranian courts routinely refuse to accept the testimony of a Jew against a Muslim, most cases of this sort are not even prosecuted and the police do not even investigate such claims. As a result of their legally inferior status, Jews find themselves outside the protection of the courts and police. This is not simply a perception on their part, but rather, sadly, a harsh reality. In none of the cases of the murder of Jews in Iran has a perpetrator ever been found, much less prosecuted.

“Employment: Jews have been barred from any position in which they would be superior to Muslims. … Jews are excluded from most government positions. Virtually all government entities (most sectors in Iran are government-owned) have a “Muslim only” policy and they print this requirement in their job notices in newspapers. This formal exclusion of Jews from large areas of employment is badly damaging to the Jews. Most private companies, thanks to the anti-Semitic media campaign in Iran, do not hire Jews either.”

Stop Arab Imperalism says:

“All Jewish university students must pass a course on Islamic ideology. In general, the professors in these courses are, by definition, very dedicated to their ideology and many Jewish Students that I have interviewed have reported that attending such a course has been a humiliating experience, in which their religion has been ridiculed and trivialized. Jewish students who protest are expelled and blocked from entering the University. Jewish students have also reported that instructors have arbitrarily failed them to block their educational goals.

“Parents of Jewish elementary and secondary school students, I interviewed in Vienna (processing center for Iranian Jewish refugees) in July of 2002, report frequent verbal and even physical abuse of their children by allegedly anti-Semitic teachers. … Principals of “Jewish” schools in Iran by law must be Muslim and are generally selected based on their Islamic credential.”

Stop Arab Imperalism says:

“The US State Department Religious Freedom Report for 2001 notes that the Jewish community, and its religious, cultural and social organizations, are closely monitored by the Ministry of Islamic Culture and Guidance and the Ministry of Intelligence and Security.

The form that this monitoring has taken is either sending agents posing as Jews to synagogues or forcing Jewish communal leaders to inform on the activities of the Jewish community. This situation has created an atmosphere of terror and mistrust in the Jewish community. Many Jews who flee Iran relate that they told no one of their plans to emigrate, not even friends or relatives in fear of an unknown collaborator informing authorities of their plans.”

rykart says:

“Pooya Dayanim is the president of the U.S.-based Iranian Jewish Public Affairs Committee (IJPAC). The views expressed in this article are his own.”

That’s your source. A branch of AIPAC.

Very serious stuff.

Stop it please. My sides are killing me.

Stop Arab Imperalism says:

“The mission of IJPAC is to be the voice of the organized Iranian Jewish communities in the United States on public policy issues and political matters of importance to the Iranian Jewish community.”

In other words, Iranian Jews themselves speak. Rykart’s rejection of their own words means that he is just another anti-Semite apply revisionism to deny or justify persecution of Jews, a fellow-traveller in spirit (if not in action) of ImADamnNutJob and Drumont.

I notice also he/she/it infests almost every thread on Tablet. I venture to guess that many potential readers view the site, then walk away when faced with his constant stream of anti-Semitic drivel.

Once again, if it wishes to maximise its readership, Tablet should rid itself of this vile individual.

rykart says:

Nice try.

IJPAC has absolutely nothing to do with Iranian Jews, It’s a sleazy propaganda arm of AIPAC as the announcement of its formation in 2002 makes abundantly plain:

Event: Launching of Iranian Jewish Public Affairs Committee (IJPAC)

Please join us for the public launch of the
Iranian Jewish Public Affairs Committee (IJPAC)

Sunday, January 5, 2003 6-8 PM

The mission of IJPAC is to be the voice of the organized Iranian Jewish communities in the United States on public policy issues and political matters of importance to the Iranian Jewish community.

Speakers will include representatives from IJPAC, AIPAC, The Simon Wiesenthal Center and The Jewish Federation.

The event will be at:
Sinai Temple Ballroom
10400 Wilshire Boulevard
Los Angeles, California

This is your authentic voice of the Jewish people of IRAN?!?

You’re a funny fellow.

Keep lying.

rykart says:

Neocons Go After “Iran Lobby,” Again

“Another Iranian cited in the article, Pooya Dayanim, is an ardent regime change advocate and contributor to National Review Online.

Yes..he’s highly representative of Jewish sentiment in Iran. They are all just dying to have Israel bomb them!

I think people here get the picture of just what sort of urine-soaked filth you gravitate toward, you pathological liar.

Stop Arab Imperalism says:

“urine-soaked filth”

You are describing yourself, who cannot respond to single one of the facts in the multiple refernces I gave.

Dayanim is well-known is the diaspora Iranian community and represents their experiences well, with a knowledge of the issues derived from real-life experience.

But Tablet’s resident Jew-hater Rykart, with zro direct knowledge, is a revisionist, a denier of history and of the bloody milennia-long history of Muslim brutalisation of Jews, just a cut above David Irving and ImADamnNutJob.

Tablet should be ashamed to provide a platform to such a depraved indivdual.

Stop Arab Imperalism says:

A professor of Iberian history demolishes the myth of tolerant Muslim treatment of Jews in the Golden Age of Andalusian Jewry. The reality is harsh:

rykart says:

Pooya Dayanim the AIPAC goon and bosom buddy of the neocon rodent Michael Ledeen is now the appointed spokesman for the Jews of Iran?


More on Ledeen, (who was kicked out of the US Defense Dept for engaging in espionage on behalf of Israel and is basically a frothing psychopath of the sort “stop Arab” finds so irresistible)

Oops. Exposed again.

Keep the Israeli humor coming. We’re in stitches.

rykart says:

..and for any who would regard my characterization of Pooya’s buddy Michael Ledeen as hyperbole, here he is in his own words:

October 29, 2001

“No stages. This is total war. We are fighting a variety of enemies. There are lots of them out there. All this talk about first we are going to do Afghanistan, then we will do Iraq… this is entirely the wrong way to go about it. If we just let our vision of the world go forth, and we embrace it entirely and we don’t try to piece together clever diplomacy, but just wage a total war… our children will sing great songs about us years from now.”

Stop Arab Imperalism says:

Hehehe. Poor Rykart. The anti-Semite really has no knowledge and no references, but his ego won’t allow him to give up; so, he is reduced to ad hom arguments (and weak ones at that) rather than informed factual debate.

But of couse we already knew he’s here not for debate but to spread his vile anti-Semitism. It’s Tablet’s fault fo tolerating it.

Has Tablet ever done a column on the Jewish nakba?

rykart says:

I sure wish I had some “real references.”

You “IJPAC” ..that very important Iranian Jewish organization that only exists in the minds of Pooya Dayanim and his demented Nazi sidekick, Michael Ledeen,

Go ahead and TRY to find them on the web. They don’t exist.

No site, no membership, no nothing.

A very impressive source!

Stop Arab Imperalism says:

“sure wish I had some “real references.””

By “real reference” you mean any fabricated source imbued with as much hatred of Israel and Jews as yourself.

You really should sod off and leave Jewish sites alone.

Paul Freedman says:

To anti-Semites attempting to hijack this discussion–Israel is obviously not the cause of anti-Semitism, leading or otherwise, as anti-Semitism is an irrational phobia of Jews and is not influenced by intra-religious or communal disputes, although anti-Semites compulsively seek to justify their irrational hatred and disgust with the Jewish state on supposed Israeli misdeeds, including we are told, the conversion bill which has nothing to do with the gentiles at all, zero implications for their pocketbooks, safety, state of mind, or general tranquility. Disgust comes easy to anti-Semites, starting from their own unacknowledged and boundless self-contempt. Ask that Austrian dilettante looser.

Both Ms. Newhouse’s article and the comments posted here are cause for concern and pain, though of a totally different sort than one might think. What they all share is absolute ignorance of the content and implications of the bill in question. It is patently clear that neither Ms. Newhouse, or her readers, read the legislation (which is available on line). Had they done so they would have discovered that it self-declaredly has absolutely nothing to do with conversions undertaken in the Diaspora, and has absolutely no impact upon the Law of Return.

The law was drafted to thwart the attempts by ultra-orthodox elements in Israel from preventing the conversion of Russian olim to Israel, in a fashion that would square with the requirements of Jewish Law. In other words, her screed (and I use the word advisedly) crucifies an effort to ameliorate precisely the abuses that she herself highlights (and which are all too often true).

The cynical manipulation of the American Jewish community in the matter of this bill, by parties outside of Israel, is, to put it mildly, reprehensible. That manipulation, which includes the Op-Ed by Tablet’s editor, is a good reminder of the etiology of the national day of mourning that commences this evening.

Gene says:

The leaders of Reform “Judaism” movement should choose another name for their religion to avoid similar confusions and misunderstandings in the future. The fact that many Jews (as well as non-Jews) attend services in Reform temples does not give them the right to call their religion a “Judaism”. There are other religious movements which attract many Jews (“Jews for Jesus” for example) but they don’t call themselves “branches of Judaism”. The main condition for the religious branch to be called “Judaism” is not to contradict teachings of Torah. The Reform movement, however, declared homosexual relations not to be a sin in a direct contradiction to the basics of Judaism. The same way someone can declare eating pork, work on Saturday or pray to idols not to be a sin also and still name his/her religion a “Judaism”. This is nonsense.
And since Reform “Judaism” is not a Judaism at all therefore its “conversions” must be declared null and void.

rykart says:

Let religious, nutcase Jews excommunicate all the atheists from the tribe. Paul Celan, Franz Kafka, Albert Einstein, Bruno Schultz, etc.

What will they have left to boast about? Some crackpot rabbis no one has ever heard of and who have contributed exactly zero to Jewish life and culture?

Won’t that be nice?

As the Coordinator of the Half-Jewish Network, the largest international organization for adult children and grandchildren of intermarriage, I would like to say that Marc Tracy’s article is correct. The bill would be incredibly damaging to Israel’s relationship with the Diaspora and would further harm Israeli patrilineal half-Jewish people.

Even Prime Minister Netanyahu has come out against the bill, after extensive meetings with many non-Orthodox American Jewish groups and appeals from many Israeli Jewish groups.

I note that the first comments on this article immediately attempted to divert the discussion away from the conversion bill to a fight over Iranian Jews and then to an attack on the legitimacy of Reform Judaism.

Completely off-topic comments are frequently posted in many online Jewish venues whenever there is any attempt to have a discussion by Diaspora Jews about actions by Israel that Diaspora Jews might reasonably disagree with. Off-topic comments are a transparent attempt to stop such discussions.

rykart says:

Robin Margolis says:

Even Prime Minister Netanyahu has come out against the bill, after extensive meetings with many non-Orthodox American Jewish groups and appeals from many Israeli Jewish groups.


Of course Netanyahu is opposed to the bill. Big surprise. He sees young diaspora Jews breaking ranks in droves with the disgusting Israeli criminals and turning their backs on the lunatic cult of Judaism, so he’s desperate. The last thing he needs in a bill that will further alienate Jews from Israel and shrink the membership in his mafia family.

If it were up to Netanyahu, a geranium could be declared Jewish, as long as it pledged fealty to the gangster state of Israel.

It’s rather comical, when you think about it.

Gene says:

About conversion. There is a great misunderstanding among modern Jews what the conversion actually is. No rabbi (orthodox or otherwise) has the power or authority to convert anybody to a Jew. Only God can (if you don’t believe me – read the Bible). However, we, humans, still need to have some idea who is (or could be) chosen. For that reason rabbinical authorities established a process (based on Torah) which after completion could lead (with the high degree of probability) to the transformation of a gentile to a Jew. Thus the purpose of the giuyr is not to convert but to help person to make such conversion. There are instances when people became Jews without giyur and there are gentiles who did not became Jews even after the giyur. The aim of the rabbi is simply to testify that the person completed process of giyur according to the established rules (Halaha). That is all. That is what this bill is about. Partial ignorance could lead to many misinterpretations and mistakes. My advice: before writing an article – study the subject in depth.

Gene, you state that the Rotem conversion bill is about “the rabbi is simply to testify that the person completed process of giyur according to the established rules (Halaha). That is all. That is what this bill about.”

Actually, that is not correct.

You may wish to have a look at the actual text of the bill, which I have read.

The actual text makes it clear that Orthodox control over Israeli conversions will be solidified, that non-Orthodox conversions in Israel will never be recognized, and that the Orthodox Israeli rabbinate still reserves the right to cancel any Jews’s ‘Jewishness’ whenever they feel like it.

Here is a link to a copy of a Conservative movement protest letter against the bill, followed by the text of the bill translated into English. Despite the heavy legalese of the bill, it is evident that the “rabbis” referred to in the bill will all be Orthodox rabbis employed by the Israeli state.

There will be no room for any non-Orthodox rabbis or even for Orthodox rabbis who might not be employed by the Israeli state as far as I can tell.

As someone who has read the entire Bible – and who studies the Bible — I would be very interested in any specific citations you may have from the Bible that support this particular law.

Tel Aviv says:

This “controversy” was manufacured by pro-intermarriage groups. This bill does little to change the status quo in Israel for conversions. The Orthodoxy have always been in control of conversions in Israel so why the fuss now? I’ll tell you why.

Pro-intermarriage groups like Robin’s are trying to hijack the debate to further their cause. (Btw Robin is very ignorant about Israeli society like most pro-intermarriage groups are). The Jewish community should have a debate on conversions but not allow in groups that seek to undermine Judaism. Groups like Jewish Outreach Institute and Interfaith Families want all Jews to marry gentiles. They were also against Masa’s anti-assimilation campaign. They are anti-Orthodox, anti-Torah, and anti-Judaism. They censor and delete all pro-inmarriage and anti-intermarriage comments on their websites. They believe that gentile women can raise Jewish children better than Jewish women, which is ridicoulous because only Jewish women can give birth to and raise Jewish children.

They promote phony Rabbis who don’t believe in the Torah or Halacha. They promote the belief that gentile women are superior to Jewish women. They won’t stop until Judaism becomes another branch of Christianity. I have a ssuspicion that these are really Christian missionary groups. They are dangerous to Judaism and should not to be listened to!

Dear Tel Aviv:

I am a little skeptical that you live in Tel Aviv.

If you did live in Israel, you would have read about the controversy in the Israeli newspapers — as I do, since they are available online — and you would know that the controversy wasn’t ‘manufactured’ by anyone in the Diaspora.

The controversy orginated in Israel, among Israel’s politicians and is covered in Israel’s newspapers. It then spread to the Diaspora.

The Rotem bill would alter the status quo for converts, half-Jewish people and Jews with two Jewish parents.

Here is statement opposing the bill by the Jewish Federations of North America:

The controversy is not being ‘manufactured’ by any interfaith family outreach organizations of any type.

Jacob says:

I am still shaking with rage at Ms. Newhouse choice of words “perverse definition of jewish peoplehood” in the original article… I am a modern orthodox jew who lives in Israel according to halacha and I am offended that she has called my religion perverse. I am also completely against the concept of revoking conversions based on lack of observance. However, Israeli rabbinate, is a public israeli institution not some handful of extremist hareidi rabbis that Ms. Newhouse makes it out to be. The worst possible outcome is for the orthodox to simply disengage and create our own private rabbinate, as in the USA, and then leave it to the handful of reform and conservative rabbis to argue over the minimal standards for calling someone jewish…
I hope that the diaspora jews understand that it is 100% critical that we keep the jewish people together and not rip us apart by making conversion some kind of joke that the orthodox simply cannot accept. This conversion bill IS middle ground and will improve the situation tremendously even though it is not perfect in your eyes… The modern orthodox and the russian olim support it… the orthodox extremists are actually against the bill, but have not stated so publicly because they feel it will fail even faster if people think they support it… Please learn the real story from Israeli sources (such as jpost) and stop listening to uninformed rhetoric.

MarcH says:

Tablet’s own David Goldman has a good review of the bill at First Things (

Goldman’s BL: The ‘proposed legislation would take conversion out of the hands of “special conversion courts” in each locality, often dominated by ultra-Orthodox rabbis, and centralize the process with the Chief Rabbinate, which includes Modern Orthodox and religious-zionist (as opposed to ultra-Orthodox rabbis). It is de facto a liberalization of the conversion process, but within the Orthodox world’.

TheDevilCanDance says:

It is hilarious to see Zionism racism turning against those Zionism is allegedly supposed to serve & protect.

But this is not a surprise since the tenet of Zionism has always been “shelilat ha’galut” the negation of the Diaspora….

Diaspora Jews, you are not Jew enough,Lol

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