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Internecine Rift Devastating to Israel’s Relationship to American Jews

Coming at a time when Israeli leaders are already concerned about a growing partisan divide and loss of support for Israel among younger Jewish-Americans, the rift is rapidly growing even larger as American Jews take umbrage at two actions by the Israeli government. A long-time source of disunity had seemingly been settled with an agreement between the government and the non-orthodox community to create an area at the Western Wall in Jerusalem’s Old City where unlike the main sections, men and women could pray together. But the Netanyahu government reneged on the deal, leaving the non-orthodox livid. Their angst was only heightened when, with Netanyahu’s support, the Conversion Bill was passed by the parliament, leaving the so-called “ultra-orthodox” rabbinate in charge of all matters of conversion and opening the door to the state of Israel’s refusal to recognize thousands of conversions that took place abroad. The back-to-back actions have aroused bitterness and anger, with some prominent Jews threatening a full break with the government of Israel.