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conversion

Everyone is a rabbi for the state

Everyone is a rabbi for the stateIn a watershed change, the state has agreed to pay  the salaries of Reform and Conservative rabbis.

Just as Mainmonides warned us, secularism protects religion because when religion is merged with the state, the later invariably determines the former. And so in Israel the state has decided that the Reform movement is Judaism rather than left-wing atheism.

State involvement in religious affairs means that the atheist High Court will ultimately decide which religious sects are indeed Jewish. And so there is no reason that “Jews for Jesus,” “Gay Jews,” or any other sect should be denied official recognition, conversion power, and funding.

World financial crisis broke against Israeli red tape

While housing prices are dropping all over the world, they continue to rise in Israel: 21% in 2009, 16% in 2010, and posting a minor decline of 2% in 2011. Though the last decline may precipitate a major drop, so far the trend in Israel goes against that of the world market. That happens for a straightforward reason: land shortage.

In fact, Israel has huge tracts of empty land, including many relatively green areas. The government, however, engages in predatory zoning practices to benefit agricultural, real estate, and banking lobbies.

Agriculture in Israel is economically inefficient, as in any other country, and only survives due to massive subsidies, including reduced water prices. Many kibbutzim long ago abandoned agriculture. Yet the government restricts the conversion of arable land to housing projects. Red tape in real estate development adds to the problem. Altogether, the severe housing shortage keeps prices artificially high.

On other hand, Israel enjoys very low mortgage interest rates, which make monthly payments relatively affordable.

In the Knesset, atheists grill rabbis over religion

The Knesset State Control Committee lashed out against the Conversion Authority’s committee for exceptional cases, claiming they were dragging out the applications.

Yes, and rightly so. The exceptional cases are the most problematic ones. They include illegal workers, tourists, gentiles who married Jews abroad, and similar categories of applicants who have every economic, familial, or other non-religious reason to falsify their conversion.

IDF conversions: debate is not closed

Even the committee appointed by the Chief Rabbi to study IDF-sponsored conversions considered them problematic.

The committee’s report shows a larger problem. Its negative evaluation stems from the fact that ten out of 170 rabbis in the conversion program are Reformists and Conservatives. But then why did 160 renegade Orthodox rabbis join a program that churns out fake converts?

As we expected, the government has reneged on its part of the deal with the rabbis: the rabbis authorized existing conversions on the condition that the program cease in its current form, but it continues unabated.

IDF conversions: debate is not closed

Muslim nuclear programs on the march

These ISIS photos show several nuclear installations in Syria, including a yellowcake plant. Israel’s Defense Minister bravely told the audience that he had known about Syria’s nuclear factories all along. It took Olmert to bomb one of them, and Netanyahu has no guts to bomb the rest.

Meanwhile, Iran sought uranium ore from Zimbabwe and reportedly from other countries as well. That makes nonsense of Israel’s claim that the Stuxnet trojan badly damaged Iran’s enrichment plants. In fact, Iran enriches so fast that it needs fresh supplies of raw uranium.

Suspected uranium conversion plant in Syria

Chief Rabbi shifted the burden of proof

In a letter to the Ashkenazi haredi comunity, which criticizes him bitterly for approving the highly suspect IDF conversions, Chief Sephardi Rabbi Shlomo Amar said the conversions are valid if they were undertaken sincerely, even if the convert later failed to observe the commandments.

Rabbi Amar’s position is a major break from the traditional position. Rabbis have always understood that sincerity of thought must be proven in deeds, and a lack of observance proves a lack of sincerity at the time of conversion. According to Rabbi Amar’s logic, no conversion can ever be annulled because there is no way of knowing the convert’s intentions—apart from his subsequent actions.

Rabbi Shlomo Amar

US State Dept: Worse than expected

Our initial review of the Religious Freedom report missed the mark in assessing the perfidy of the US State Department.

The Americans tell us how to conduct religious ceremonies at the Western Wall: they are offended by gender separation at our holiest place.

Incredibly, the State Department lambasted ‘proselytizing’ among Jews by… haredi groups. In the eyes of American diplomats, those religious Jews who try to return their brethren to Judaism offend secular values. No similar criticism is leveled at messianic proselytizers.

The report laments that the High Rabbinical Court ‘restricts’ the individual’s choice to convert to Judaism. We see. Everyone must be free to proclaim himself a Jew and we must recognize him as such. No. The Rabbinical Court is our last line of defense against fake black Jews, Reform ‘Allah Akbar’ conversions, Sohnut’s forged documents, and similar scams. The American diplomats even complain that the Israeli Conversion Authority is headed by a Chief Rabbi.

The report complains of non-Jews being refused burial at Jewish cemeteries. May we at least escape the State Department’s scrutiny after death?

Barak Obama

Fake conversions: normal or scandalous?

A mild scandal is raging over some rare commonsense comments by a government attorney, who told the Supreme Court that IDF conversions are not valid unless validated by the Chief Rabbinate.

Aligned with Reform and Conservative donors, leftist parties immediately decried the state’s position.

In truth, IDF conversions are as fake as it gets. The fish is rotten from its head: IDF’s chief rabbi is appointed by militant atheists; currently the appointment is made by Ehud Barak. Most soldiers attend the conversion courses solely bexause they offer a welcome break from their military routine. These conversions do not satisfy even the minimalist Reform standards: in just three months, a good goy becomes a bad Jew.

No wonder decent rabbis do not recognize those conversions. If the atheistic state wants to import those who are not halachically Jewish (while demanding that the Arabs recognize us as a Jewish state), it is free to do so. But it has no power to make truth out of a lie. It cannot declare non-Jews to be Jews.

The debate is politically charged because many assume that by serving in the IDF non-Jews demonstrate their firm allegiance to Jews. This is a mistaken belief. They serve in the army for the same reason they pay taxes. They would just as well serve in the Russian army, or in the army of any other army of the state they happened to reside in. If they want to be Jewish, they are welcome, but there must be a proper giyur.


US Jewish senators test limits of secularism

US Senators Wyden and Gray, among others, sent a letter to the Israeli Ambassador criticizing the proposed conversion bill. It is yet to be explained what atheist foreigners have to do with this essential religious process.

Faced with rampant assimilation, American Jewish barons found a solution in fake conversions—which with fake Reform ‘rabbis’ are as fast as declaring ‘Allah akbar!’

Trash rabbis want trash Jews

The American Conservative, Reform, and Reconstructionist movements have condemned Israeli conversion reform. Unnecessarily liberal as the new law is, it is still insufficiently liberal for these atheist ‘rabbis.’

They want Israel to recognize Reform conversions, which are about as substantial as declarations of ‘Allah Akbar!’ and conservative conversions which teach Jewish tradition more than Jewish religion.

The American ‘rabbis’ want the simplest conversion to gloss over the mind-boggling intermarriage rate. Indeed, why not intermarry if, as those blind guides claim, our religion is merely about ethics? Christian spouses are perfectly ethical.

The debate over conversion procedures is nonsensical: in the atheist state of Israel, Slavs feel themselves perfectly comfortable and won’t convert to Judaism even under the most simplified procedures.

Lieberman: much ado about no one

The Knesset is unlikely to approve Lieberman’s amendments to the conversion law.

Religious parties oppose a provision of the bill which authorizes any three local rabbis to form a band and start authorizing conversions. Such an arrangement would encourage prospective converts to shop for the most lenient rabbis—who would be in no short supply.

The bill, sensibly enough, closes the conversion loophole to illegal immigrants, who would of course convert for economic reasons. That provision will be opposed by leftists, who love the illegals.

In any case, very few people want to convert. Since the state is not practically Jewish, they are comfortable with their current religious status.

A Jew is Forced from his Homeland

By Yekutiel Guzofsky

This morning at 7:00 a.m., Israeli Prison Authorities walked Ephraim Khantsis through passport control on the Third Floor of Terminal 3 at Ben Gurion International Airport in Lod, onto a New York bound jet with a one-hour stop-over in Kiev. Khantsis had been in an isolation cell at Beersheva’s Eshel prison for the past two weeks. He was not permitted visits, phone rights, or access to have any of his clothing or basic possessions, including prayer books and tefillin. These basic religious and human rights afforded to any prisoner – Jew or Arab – were denied Ephraim.

Ironically, Khantsis was never charged with commission of a crime. At the time of his incarceration he was Israel’s sole Jewish Administrative Detainee. This, after receiving a three month order of detention, several weeks ago.

British Laws, Israeli Dungeons

Administrative Detention is an antiquated, emergency military power inherited by Israel from the Colonial British Mandate that governed pre-state Israel. In 1984, Israel finally canceled the “Majla” Islamic Turkish Ottoman Law that had, until then, been part of Israel’s law codes. However, the country has yet to rescind the Emergency Mandate Powers used by the British against Jewish pioneers after the fall of the Ottoman Turks.

The British conquered Palestine in WWI from the Turks with the help of Jabotinsky’s Jewish Legion, subsequently their commitment to the Balfour Declaration, declaring a Jewish state on both sides of the Jordan, then, did everything possible to dampen and destroy Jewish national aspirations in the years that followed.

Administrative orders were one of the key tools used by the British in their efforts against Jews who objected to British treachery. Indeed, the cruel and draconian orders stifled many efforts to create a strong Jewish presence in Eretz Yisrael. Today, in an ironic twist of history, that same tool is used by the Israeli government against its own citizens with similar strong nationalist sentiments

Ephraim Khantsis Suicide Bomber?

Administrative detention has been used as a last resort, primarily against Arab terrorists who are considered “ticking time-bombs”. It’s also employed when the state lacks admissible evidence against a dangerous suspect. In short, it’s a last ditch effort to prevent a suspect from carrying out the final stages of a murderous plot.

All agree that Khantsis had no co-conspirators and no plot. All of the “secret information” submitted to the courts focused on certain “extreme philosophies” preached by the young Zionist firebrand. He possessed an ideology that his yeshiva and his interrogators had zero tolerance for.

Khantsis is a 22 year-old computer programmer who immigrated to the U.S. from Odessa when he was eight, graduated Stonybrook University last year, and came “home” to Israel to fulfill his life-long dream of aliya. Upon arrival in Israel, he enrolled in Machon Meir, a well known Zionist yeshiva in Jerusalem. Machon Meir seemed like the perfect choice for a young Jew, new to Israel and new to Torah observance, seeking to study Judaism, and learn a beginner’s Hebrew in a pro-Israeli environment. It is rare to find a yeshiva for beginners with a pro-state-of-Israel orientation. There are no shortage of “Haredi” – “ultra Orthodox” institutions for beginners, that frown upon students enlisting in the IDF and mock the modern State of Israel for its secular character.

Betrayed by his Rabbis

Ephraim, however, was an odd fit at Machon Meir. For on the one hand he maintained ultra-Zionist ideals, eager to study Hebrew and enlist in the IDF, but on the other, he passionately rejected the Yeshiva’s pro-government philosophy. He viewed the current policies of Israel as treasonous and as a blatant betrayal of Torah. Surrendering Jewish land, destroying Jewish homes and valuing secular laws over Torah were not things he could honestly show support for.

Ephraim made the “mistake” of speaking openly about his views at Machon Meir. It was not long before these same views were themselves labeled ‘treasonous’ and the GSS was informed. Incidentally, Machon Meir is a favored grooming ground for Israeli agents because so many Jews with so many different foreign passports, who passionately worship the state of Israel, pass through their ranks. Many are even in the process of conversion, lacking the common “Jewish traits’ that the Dubai police chief has so proudly thought to have discovered. Students are regularly invited to meetings to become potential agents for the state. Many, too, are asked to spy on their fellow students, to be sure that “right wing extremist” co-students are not planning crimes against Arabs or other state interests.

Ephraim’s Rabbis at Machon Meir gave him two days to change his views. The Shin Bet operatives who came to his yeshiva several times in futile efforts to silence him were also at a loss how to deal with a young activist who spoke openly to them of his anti-government thoughts. The GSS (Shin Bet) first issued a more lenient administrative order, prohibiting him from entering into Judea and Samaria for three months. But later, after Ephraim defiantly violated those restrictions, arrested him in Samaria with a more stringent Administrative Detention order signed by Defense Minister, Ehud Barak on Feb 16.

The Judge sees through the GSS

The new order translated into three months in jail, without trial, and without cause or reason given. District Court Judge President Moussa Arad, was asked by the State Prosecutor to ratify the three month detention order.

Judge Arad was hesitant and perplexed. She had never seen a case like this, with a Jew who refused to recognize the law of the land and her authority; who asked not to have legal counsel; who refused to cooperate with the proceedings, but who appeared to have no concrete criminal or security plot that he intended to carry out. She had seen Arab terrorist rings and suspects who had been seen with bombs or who had been recorded speaking in detail about specific terror activities they intended to initiate. In these cases she had no problem signing off on the administrative order. But here there were no bombs, there was no organization of terrorist co-conspirators, and she certainly had no specific plot to weigh in her decision.

Arad, understanding the inherent weakness and limitations of the Shin Bet case, and knowing that Ephraim posed no real threat to anyone, brokered a deal to ship Ephraim off to the United States for the duration of his detention. From there he would be free to return in May. She issued a ruling on February 22 effectively obligating the Israeli prison authorities to permit Ephraim to freely call his relatives in the U.S. and arrange the purchase of a ticket for him to immediately fly home to New York. The authorities permitted one, sixty-second call to arrange the flight, three days later. He was permitted to fly March 2. No explanation has been given for this blatant violation of Arad’s ruling, which should have enabled Ephraim to call and leave jail nine days earlier.

Ephraim Sees no Reason to Cooperate

Ephraim’s attorney jumped at the opportunity to substitute three months jail for three months of “freedom” abroad. Ephraim was less enthusiastic. The Judge’s compromise proposal was an easy way out for the state, the defense attorney and for the judge herself. No need to fight the order. No need to fight for alternative house-arrest in Israel, with an electronic bracelet or other proposals that would have gained Ephraim his freedom in his new home, Israel.

Ephraim’s attorney, rather than fighting the order, expended all his skills of persuasion convincing the young and defiant detainee to accept the deal. To the surprise of all, Ephraim who moments earlier refused to accept the rights of the government to issue the order and who refused to partake on any level with the proceedings, agreed to his voluntary temporary deportation.

A Precedent Setting Case?

The Ephraim Khantsis case brings into question not only the use of the anti-Jewish, un-democratic, military emergency powers inherited from the British Mandate. Indeed, without due process and basic legal rights, how does the modern State of Israel distinguish itself from tyrranical totalitarian states? But more than this, it calls into question the degree of deprivation a loyal citizen of the state can be subject to when he has committed no crime, plans to commit no crime, and merely holds views that are at odds with the reigning authorities.

For it is bad enough to hold a person in jail without offering him the right to review the evidence against him and without offering him the right of a trial and due process. But to hold him in conditions worse than those of Arab terrorists is mind boggling. To deny a political-religious prisoner phone rights, visitation rights, prayer books and tefillin, and to prevent him from carrying out a court order that allows him to organize his release is an outright and blatant violation of his most elementary human rights.

The Israeli authorities have already alerted their American counterparts of Khantsis’s return, and the FBI has visited his relatives stateside. How sad that Israel, now the target of an unprecedented international witch-hunt in the aftermath of the Dubai debacle, with hypocritical, Jew-hating European nations now sharing passport, flight and phone communication information to hunt down the Jewish assassins, would now appeal to the Americans to harass an Israeli citizen for no apparent reason.

Yet another 7,000 fake Jews

The government has capitulated to human rights groups and allowed the “Bnei Menashe” Hindus to immigrate to Israel.

The bizarre part is that they will need to undergo conversion to Judaism before immigration, which means that they are not Jews as of now.

The “Bnei Menashe” claim their remote ancestors were Jewish. So also claim the Ethiopian Falash Mura Christians, some 4,000 of whom are also preparing to enter Israel.

IDF Chief Rabbi replaced: A questionable for the worse

Ehud Barak will replace IDF’s Chief Rabbi Ronsky after his first term expires this year. Ronsky is a curious case of a rabbi who is morally conservative (anti-gay, strongly anti-Arab) but politically conformist (authorized soldiers not only to evict Jewish pioneers from their homes, but to do so on Shabbat).

Ronsky’s likely successors are even more conformist than him. Rabbi Rafi Peretz from Atzmona yeshiva instructed his students to participate in the Gush Katif eviction. The other two candidates are also rabbis on the government payroll. Ben-Artzi heads IDF’s Jewish Consciousness Department, whose job is to somehow reconcile halachic Judaism with the army’s defeatism. Another candidate is Shlomo Peretz, who heads the IDF’s kashrut department and is altogether removed from ideology.

The army has already created its own Jews by instituting a three-month conversion for non-Jews, and now it wants a pet chief rabbi.

Rabbinate in double bind over Ethiopians

Shrugging at Falash Mura African Christian immigrants, rabbis demanded that all of them undergo conversion to Judaism. Well and good, but that means their children must attend religious schools as a proof of their parents’ intention to convert.

Religious schools, of course, refuse to admit fake converts.

The Education Ministry has promised to revoke government funding of schools that seek to protect Jewish pupils from black migrants.

Christianity is kosher

The Supreme Court ruled that a Christian (“Jews for Jesus”) baker from Ashdod is entitled to a kosher certificate for his bakery.

It is obscene to see the atheistic court meddling in purely religious matters. The law of kashrut requires the baker to be Jewish, or at least to delegate important tasks to Jews. The Supreme Court has ruled in past immigration cases that conversion to Christianity is incompatible with Jewishness.

In practice, the rabbis would accord the Christian baker kosher supervision, but they would supervise him to the death of his business.

Druze MK betrays Netanyahu

A Lebanese website reported yesterday that a Likud rep met a high-ranking Syrian in Washington as Obama’s administration tested Netanyahu’s intentions toward the peace process. While Likud was busy denying the rumor, its Druze MK Ayoub Kara proudly confirmed his role in a TV interview.

The meeting actually took place with a Syrian opposition figure. Obama revels in the US State Department’s traditional delusion that they can change regimes to their liking. Likewise, in Iran the US supports the supposedly moderate Khatami, who is actually the most fundamentalist Shiite in the Iranian government, in charge of Shia conversion efforts in Africa and the Middle East, and a supporter of Iran’s nuclear program.

Rabbinical court extends jurisdiction over non-Jews

Rabbis have again proved they are more ingenuous than politicians. While the coalition parties squabbled over civil marriages, the Israeli Rabbinical Court solved the problem by allowing rabbis to register non-Jewish marriages.

The rabbinical decision won’t make Lieberman happy. Civil marriages were never a problem in Israel: non-Jews could always marry, with the only restriction being that their marriage was called a “union.” The real issue with civil marriages is to deprive Israel of a major attribute of Jewishness, obligatory hupa marriage, and to provide a vehicle for intermarriage. Civil authorities, unlike rabbis, don’t verify the applicants’ Jewishness and would allow eight hundred thousand non-Jews to marry Jews without conversion.

Likud avoids Lieberman’s demands

Though both parties hail the agreement, in reality there is none. Likud merely agreed to “examine the possibility” of anti-Arab changes in the Israeli Citizenship Act and expressed the belief that all Israeli citizens must profess loyalty. Likud also sidestepped the demands of quickie conversion and civil marriages for non-Jews.

Lieberman’s acquiescence to Likud’s vague promises shows how little is he concerned with his electoral platform.

Haim Ramon confirmed that Kadima did not even discuss the citizenship/loyalty issue with Yisrael Beitenu, though both parties claimed agreement on all of Lieberman’s demands.

The war of promises

Kadima has accepted Lieberman’s coalition demands, except for his centerpiece, the loyalty oath. Yisrael Beitenu praised Kadima’s compliance and ignored the oath issue. Indeed, the oath is over-touted; Islam sanctions lying, and the Arabs would have no problem taking a false oath. The conversion issue is similarly irrelevant. Lieberman only asks that the conversion be handled by local ultra-Orthodox rabbis, rather than centralized in Jerusalem.
On civil marriages, Yisrael Beitenu seems to be slipping toward the position that it is only intended for non-Jews.

Kadima’s acceptance is superficial: Livni is unlikely to become prime minister and does not expect to have to carry through her commitments. She can safely promise Lieberman civil unions and easy conversions—knowing that Shas won’t allow Bibi to pass them—and promise to dislodge Hamas, even though she would have no influence on the matter.

Netanyahu is working hard to drag Kadima into the coalition despite Livni’s opposition to a token role. Bibi squanders the victory the voters handed him. In this, he’s supported by fearful voters: polls indicate that 65 percent of them favor a unity government.