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Daybreak: U.S. Jews Accused of Meddling

Plus a controversial travel warning, and more in the news

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• Israel’s chief rabbi strikes back at American Jews for “coercing the Israeli government” to drop the Rotem conversion bill. [NYT]

• Éminence grise columnist Jim Hoagland chastises President Obama for having formed his principles for the Mideast without first fully understanding the region. [WP]

• After the U.S. State Department warned Americans about traveling to Israel and especially Eilat following last week’s rocket attacks, Israel wants to know why there was so similar warning for Jordan, which was also hit. [JTA]

• At a secret meeting, Israeli officials warned Hamas about its planned policy of abducting West Bank settlers as short-term bargaining chips. [Haaretz]

• In a Jerusalem neighborhood, the eruv—the wire marking the Shabbat boundary—is a source of constant controversy. [LAT]

• Rabbi Bruce M. Cohen, co-founder of Interns for Peace, died at 65. [NYT]

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Hopefully the Chief Rabbis’ comments reflect ignorance over the facts, but his comments completely misrepresent the issue. Even were Israel the state of Israelis only and, according to the rabbi, “Israeli laws should be determined by residents of Israel who defend its security and bear its burdens,” still the rabbis constituency is less than 10% of Israel’s population, with most Israelis describing themselves “secular.”

As to actual participation in “defend[ing] its security and bear[ing] its burdens,” according to a recent Israel Treasury report, “75%-80% of haredim 22 years and older” choose to exempt themselves from military service; after the yeshiva exemption runs out, they choose to study rather than participate in gainful employment. In fact they contribute nothing of material value to the state. So I hardly consider the rabbi’s constituency legitimately representative of the state of the Jews.

But my main problem with the rabbi’s comments is his assertion that Israel law, even that which impacts our Diaspora, is the domain of Israel alone, and particularly his own brand of Israel. Israel, to set the record straight, was created by the Diaspora for 100 years before the state was born, a response to antisemitism, discrimination and persecution. During, and following the Holocaust American and English orthodoxy actually sent shlichim to Roosevelt and Churchill seeking to persuade them not to allow Zionism to create a state of the Jews.

Had there been an Israel during the Shoah, and had Israel the law before the Knesset today determining conversion authority the exclusive domain of the Chief Rabbinate, Who is a Jew reflecting Haredi demands, then there is every likelihood that there would not have been a Law of Return to provide refuge; such an Israel would have stood shoulder to shoulder with the West in silence, passively complicit in Europe’s nearly successful effort at a final solution to Christendom’s 2000 year-long Jewish problem.

Rachel says:

Hey, just alerting you of a typo:

“…Israel wants to know why there was so similar warning for Jordan, which was also hit.” Change “so” to “no”.


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Daybreak: U.S. Jews Accused of Meddling

Plus a controversial travel warning, and more in the news

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