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Bibi v. Rotem

Opposing bill, PM challenges coalition partners

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Netanyahu at his Cabinet meeting.(Ronen Zvulun-Pool/Getty Images)

While you were likely spending your weekend trying to cool off, Israel’s prime minister, Benjamin Netanyahu, was heating things up at his cabinet meeting Sunday, taking a stand against the proposed, and controversial, conversion bill.

“The Prime Minister said today in the cabinet meeting that he objects to the proposed conversion bill, which could tear the Jewish people apart,” said an official statement released yesterday by Netanyahu’s office. “Efforts will be made to consensually remove the bill, but if they fail Netanyahu will ask members of Likud and other coalition parties to reject the bill.”

As someone who normally does not find himself in the position of praising this particular Israeli prime minister, let me say that the latter half of that statement speaks volumes: By taking a principled stand against the bill, Netanyahu is rejecting its author, David Rotem of the Yisrael Beiteinu party, as well as Rotem’s political patron, party boss Avigdor Lieberman, a rift that could spell the downfall of Netanyahu’s precarious cabinet. While Lieberman has said repeatedly that neither he nor his party is slated to leave the government anytime soon, the foreign minister has nonetheless engaged in a series of provocative steps against the prime minister: On Friday, for example, Lieberman appointed a new ambassador to the United Nations without following protocol and first clearing the appointment with Netanyahu.

Seen in this light, Netanyahu’s position is even more impressive. While some skeptics noted that the prime minister originally supported the bill and changed his mind only when American Jewish leaders expressed their dismay, Netanyahu is nonetheless required to pay a steep political price for his struggle against the Rotem Bill, and opponents of that disastrous bit of legislation should take heart in knowing that Bibi’s up for the battle.

Interior Minister Yishai: Absence of Conversion Law Poses Danger to Jewish People [Haaretz]

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sharon says:

If the proposed conversion bill passes it will be the end of Israel. Probably thousands of people will emigrate, and as a woman, already treated as a 2nd class citizen, I would leave the country rather then serve in the military. When the ultra-orthodox defend the country – instead of causing its problems, then they can have a say. Right now they deserve to be ignored and isolated.

I am pleased that PM Netanyahu finally came out against the conversion bill. As the Coordinator of the Half-Jewish Network, I would like to say that the bill would be incredibly damaging to Israel’s relationship with the Jewish diaspora and would further harm the Israeli patrilineal half-Jewish people that it was allegedly supposed to help.

Robin Margolis

brynababy says:

Bibi is slowly redeeming himself in my eyes. May he have the continued strength (and wisdom) to repudiate this noxious bill and it’s sponsors. It would be best for Israel if Lieberman were out of the government. Bring in Livni, let’s move forward!

rykart says:

Doesn’t make much difference. Jews of conscience are already so disgusted with Israel that the bill will have little effect either way.

As to Livni, her Nazi-inspired policies are scarcely different from Netanyahu’s which is why she is now a wanted war criminal in Europe.

Garry says:

“Tear the Jewish People Apart”-Too bad Netanyahu can’t open his mouth up against the real group tearing the Jewish people apart-J Street and it’s leftist allies.

If this bill is passed at any time, the Jews is disaspora will speak with their wallets. Why support Israel when the country doesn’t want them?

It is very interesting that the discussion of the conversion bill has been interrupted by two off-topic posts, one on Tziporah Livni, and one on J Street.

These are transparent attempts to stop discussion of the conversion bill by diverting the comments to unrelated subjects.

Apparently, it is too scary to have Diaspora Jews discussing Israeli Knesset legislation that might harm their interests.

The conversion bill needs to be discussed. There have been repeated attempts to introduce bills in the Knesset that will restrict the definition of “who is a Jew” in ways that will exclude descendants of intermarriage and non-Orthodox Jews.

It is important that this issue be thoroughly discussed by Jews in the Diaspora and Israel and that we not be sidetracked by obvious attempts to move us off-topic.

rykart says:

Now that they claim to have genetic evidence, why not just give everyone a blood test?

Look–anyone who is concerned about what some goofball rabbi over in Naziland thinks about their Jewishness has serious identity problems to begin with.

On a practical level, there is absolutely no way in hell israel will pass anything that makes it more difficult for Jews from Rhode Island and New Jersey to emigrate, strip native residents of their property and land and declare themselves official Israelis.

Israel has enough trouble just keeping the Jews they’ve already got. You’d need your head examined to live in such a place.

K Ohana says:

If the ultra-orthodox determine diaspora Jews are not Jews, then I for one, will close my wallet. Those ultra-orthodox seem to be Israel’s worse enemy, getting rid of their Jews. How can such a bill even get to this point? This same attitude drove my mother from Israel in 1960, and things have gotten worse instead of better. If a 100,000 orthodox can stand in the streets and protest a judical ruling, then where are the 100,000 standing in the streets to protest this Israeli Knesset legislation?

rykart says:

As long as the sub-Jews, vermin and filth of Israel continue to extend their condescending seal of approval to Jews of the diaspora, people will support them?!?

Philip Roth–a writer of the caliber Israel has never and will never produce had this to say:

“But then to the entire world they are oblivious. For the entire world they have one word: goy! “I live here and I speak Hebrew and all I know and see are other Jews like me and isn’t that wonderful!” Oh, what an impoverished Jew this arrogant Israeli is! Yes, they are the authentic ones, the Yehoshuas and the Ozes, and tell me, I ask them, what are Saul Alinsky and David Riesman and Meyer Schapiro and Leonard Bernstein and Bella Abzug and Paul Goodman and Allen Ginsberg, and on and on and on and on? Who do they think they are, these provincial nobodies! Jailers! This is their great Jewish achievement—to make Jews into jailers and jet-bomber pilots!”

Philip, you said a mouthful!

Rkart – But, this involves conversion….. I can be tested, tested, tested genetically and never have the ‘gene’. Why??? Because neither parent was born Jewish. I CHOSE Judaism. I converted to Judaism outside the auspices and the state of Israel. If this bill is ever passed, I and millions like me will not be welcomed into Israel. AND it will not matter if I converted Reform, Conservative, Reconstructive, or Orthodox or whatever. The Chief Rabbinate will flip a coin or consult their magic 8 ball or whatever they will use to determine who is a Jew or not. The ultra conservative will make sure of it. But at High Holy Day services we will still get the pleas and the envelopes to support Israel, and many of us will close our wallets.

rykart says:

As I said, the chances of Israel passing anything that will make it harder rather than easier for misguided Jews to move to the Israeli terror state will NEVER pass.

You haven’t anything to worry about.

ArcticEric says:

I applaud Tablet for posting the article about Bibi Netanyahu and letting the likes of Rykart offer his comments for the world to see. This exchange is a testament to the openness and candor possible in the Jewish world. It is rarely seen in the Muslim world.

Now, as for one accusation, the so-called “terror state”…I ask anyone who wishes to spend just one day in Sderot. Google “One Family Fund”. My daughter was in Israel during the Second Lebanon War. There was more terror here than there. She remains in Israel and I feel safer in Israel than in America.

Am Yisrael Chai.

For once I agree with the Prime Minister. If this bill goes forward I will find it more difficult to come to the defense of Israel or support it in any way; financially or otherwise.

Paula G. Feldman

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Bibi v. Rotem

Opposing bill, PM challenges coalition partners

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