Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

7 Tammuz 5768 - July 10, 2008 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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Livni: "Conversion Processes Should Be Easier — Only One in Ten Immigrants Is Jewish"

By Yechiel Sever

Rabbonim and dayanim expressed staunch opposition to a call by Foreign Affairs Minister Tzipi Livni to ease conversion processes and spoke out against large-scale aliyah since the vast majority of recent immigrants are non-Jews. Livni declared that only one in ten immigrants is Jewish.

Deeply disturbed by the situation, rabbonim and dayanim said their fears have come true. "The State of Israel is using the Law of Return to bring in non-Jews in order to strengthen secular control of the country and buttress its battle against the Jewish religion, halacha and those who stand firmly behind them," said one prominent figure. "The vision of a nation of Jews held by the framers of the state is taking on a ridiculous guise — bringing in non-Jews and giving them citizenship in a `secular conversion.' According to Livni's thinking Western and Eastern European countries can also be declared Jewish states."

Another noted, "The election primaries, and the surveys that accompany them are driving the various contenders to issue statements that appeal to voters. Maranan verabonon gedolei Yisroel zt"l vlct"a warned us long ago that conversion without a full acceptance of mitzvas is not conversion and the convert remains a non-Jew for all intents and purposes."

Zionist and religious-Zionist conversion will create two peoples, said one rov, "and will bring ruin on Eretz Yisroel and its inhabitants."

Livni made her remarks about easing conversion at this week's cabinet meeting. "We must make the conversion process easier for new immigrants, especially since only one-tenth of the immigrants are Jewish, and the rest are eligible to make aliyah based on the Law of return... Recognition of the cultures from which the immigrants come will boost their integration in Israeli society. This is not setting them apart, but rather respecting them," she said.

Following her alarming remarks MK Rabbi Moshe Gafni said, "Unfortunately it seems the State of Israel is bringing in non-Jews in the guise of the Law of Return. The Government of Israel should ask forgiveness from Rabbi Yitzchak Peretz shlita who, while serving as Absorption Minister, was attacked for presenting figures indicating that 30 percent of immigrants are non-Jews. Those grave figures are now proving far more optimistic in terms of Jewish aliyah as evident in Minister [Livni's] remarks. The State of Israel has no compunction about filling the country with non-Jews from around the world, who are very glad to come here. The Foreign Minister's statement is very serious from every possible angle and she is liable to lead to the decimation of the State of Israel as a Jewish state.

"There is no such thing as easy or strict conversion. Conversion is a fixed halachic concept and is not subject to the vagaries of one government or another, or changing figures regarding the number of Jewish immigrants."

Rabbi Gafni added, "Responses to these remarks by Shas ministers were not publicized, but I assume they voiced their opposition during the cabinet meeting."


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