Americans need to understand the Middle East
How much do we really know?

At The Media Line, we value all points of view and aim to mend our differences through fact-based narrative-inclusive journalism Help support our bold and brave team in Afghanistan, Gaza, Israel, Palestinian Territories, the UAE, and beyond.
Help us continue our work and provide access to the news that matters to you.

Thank you and best wishes to you and yours for this Jewish New Year.
 
Felice Friedson
Founder, President
Israel Must Become More Welcoming to Diaspora Jews
(WIkimedia Commons)

Israel Must Become More Welcoming to Diaspora Jews

Ma’ariv, Israel, September 12

The Israeli Supreme Court recently ruled that the widow of a person entitled to enter the country under the Law of Return, which gives Diaspora Jews the right to come and live in Israel, is also entitled to Israeli citizenship and the status of an immigrant. As is well known, the Zionist vision was to establish a Jewish state that would allow anyone with an affinity for Judaism to receive citizenship in Israel. In essence, the Law of Return stated that anyone who is a Jew or a descendant of a Jew could be part of the Jewish State. The “grandchild clause,” which was added to the Law in 1970, stipulated that sons and grandsons of Jews are also entitled to immigrate to Israel even if they themselves aren’t Jews. Recently, the Knesset, after a heated debate, rejected a controversial proposal to repeal this clause. Yet the real problem isn’t the “grandchild clause.” The real problem is the contradiction between the leniency of the Law of Return, which recognizes and accepts different “shades” of Judaism, and Israel’s state institutions, which discriminate against anyone who isn’t Jewish according to strict Jewish jurisprudence. Therefore, those who are given the right to immigrate and settle in Israel on the basis of the Law of Return, often encounter a rigid and bureaucratic system that discriminates against them. Today, in Israel, 300,000-400,000 Israelis who consider themselves Jews aren’t viewed as such by the State. They therefore can’t marry in Israel or even be buried next to their Jewish spouse. While they come into Israel as Jews, after being viewed as and regarded as such in their countries of origin, they immediately become second-class citizens upon arrival. Many studies have shown that many Russian-speaking Israelis, who are not Jews according to Jewish jurisprudence, see themselves as part of the Jewish people. Only 8% of them actually underwent a conversion process in the last 30 years, probably due to the difficulties associated with the Orthodox conversion process. And if that’s not enough, let’s talk about 700,000-800,000 Russian-speaking Israelis who immigrated in the 1990’s from the Soviet Union, who are still perceived by many as second-class Jews. The rabbinate looks at them with suspicion, they are required to undergo humiliating Judaism inquiries, and some are even denied their Judaism because, 30 years after immigrating to Israel, they failed to meet the strict requirements and prove that they are indeed Jews. The tragedy of the Jewish people today is that the establishment or the system of religious services has failed to absorb even those who were recognized as Jews according to Jewish law. The phenomenon of mixed marriages of Jews around the world is growing across the world, including in the United States, France and Canada. Do we want to close the gate to these individuals who live fully Jewish lives? Quite the contrary: Our connection as a people must be strengthened. These Jews must be welcomed into Israel in a way that makes them feel equal and worthy members of the Jewish State. – Alex Reef (translated by Asaf Zilberfarb)

Give the Gift of Trusted News!

Dear friends,

The Media Line is always there to report to you the stories and issues of the Middle East – completely and in context: TML is the source you can trust.

Know The Media Line to Know The Middle East!

Please support our ad-free, nonprofit news agency. Our seasoned journalists reporting from the Middle East are working day and night during these challenging, yet defining times; and our student interns are honing their knowledge and skills, preparing to emerge as tomorrow’s journalists.

You rely on us and we’re relying on you! Make your online tax-deductible donation here and contact us regarding donations through appreciated stock, donor advised funds, qualifying IRA distributions and other charitable instruments.

Thank you for confidence in The Media Line.
 
Felice Friedson
Founder, President

Invest in the
Trusted Mideast
News source.
We are on the
front lines.

Personalize Your News
Upgrade your experience by choosing the categories that matter most to you.
Click on the icon to add the category to your Personalize news
Browse Categories and Topics
Wake up to the Trusted Mideast News source Mideast Daily News Email
By subscribing, you agree to The Media Line terms of use and privacy policy.
Wake up to the Trusted Mideast News source Mideast Daily News Email
By subscribing, you agree to The Media Line terms of use and privacy policy.