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Arouts 7 - US Report Criticizes Israel's Jewish Character

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  • Paul
    Arouts 7 - (Israël) 2 novembre 2009 – US Report Criticizes Israel s Jewish Character by Hillel Fendel
    Message 1 of 1 , Nov 2, 2009
      Arouts 7 -
      (Israël) 2 novembre 2009 –
      US Report Criticizes Israel's Jewish Character

      by Hillel Fendel


      (IsraelNN.com) In its 2009 International Religious Freedoms Report, the
      U.S. State Department accuses Israel of “governmental and legal
      discrimination against non-Jews and non-Orthodox streams of Judaism.”
      The JewishIsrael organization, in its review of the document, calls it a
      “protracted denunciation against Israel’s Jewish character.”

      The State Department report, released last week, analyzes religious
      freedoms in many countries of the world, and its section on Israel is
      entitled Israel and the Occupied Territories; the text explains that
      “Occupied Territories” includes “areas subject to the jurisdiction of
      the Palestinian Authority.”

      JewishIsrael is an interactive internet portal that “provides a platform
      for ongoing monitoring and pro-active responses to aggressive missionary
      campaigns now targeting Jews for conversion in the Jewish State.”

      “A disproportionate amount of the [State Department] report,”
      JewishIsrael notes, “is dedicated to depicting Torah traditions and
      Orthodox Judaism as oppressive, and to reporting on Israel’s ‘growing’
      but ‘harassed’ community of apostate Jews and Christian missionaries.”

      The report emphasizes, “Proselytizing is legal in the country and
      missionaries of all religious groups are allowed to proselytize all
      citizens.” It then criticizes Israeli “society” by reporting, “Society's
      attitudes toward missionary activities and conversion generally were
      negative. Most Jews were opposed to missionary activity directed at Jews
      and some were hostile to Jewish converts to Christianity.” Though this
      sentence merely describes the natural attitude of Jews living in the
      Jewish State after centuries of religious persecution, the implication
      is one of criticism.

      The report notes that 56 percent of the public describes itself as
      traditional or religious, and that most of the remainder also “observe
      some Jewish traditions.” Despite this, it also includes the following
      statements of criticism:

      * “The Government implements some policies based on Orthodox Jewish
      interpretations of religious law which thereby discriminates against
      citizens adhering to other religious groups.”
      * “The Orthodox Jewish establishment also determines who is buried
      in Jewish state cemeteries, limiting this right to individuals
      considered Jewish by Orthodox standards.”
      * “Jews in most professions were prohibited from working on the
      Sabbath unless granted a special permit by the Ministry of Industry,
      Trade, and Labor.”
      * “In order to marry in government-recognized ceremonies, Jews had
      to undergo marriage counseling administered by the Orthodox religious
      * “The Interior Ministry distinguishes between Jews and non-Jews on
      identification cards by printing the birth date of Jews in Hebrew
      letters according to the Jewish calendar while listing that of others
      according to the Gregorian calendar.”

      Critical of Western Wall Prayers
      The report is critical of prayer customs at the Western Wall, second in
      Jewish sanctity only to the Temple Mount just above it. The report states:

      “Governmental authorities prohibit mixed gender prayer services at
      religious sites in deference to the belief of most Orthodox Jews that
      such services violate the precepts of Judaism. At the Western Wall, the
      holiest site in Judaism [sic], men and women must use separate areas to
      visit and pray. Women also are not allowed to conduct prayers at the
      Western Wall while wearing prayer shawls, which are typically worn by
      Jewish men, and are not permitted to read from Torah scrolls.”

      The report quoted that Jerusalem Institute of Justice (JIJ) as
      “alleg[ing] that the Interior Ministry refused to process immigration
      applications from persons entitled to citizenship under the Law of
      Return if it was determined such persons held Christian or Messianic
      Jewish religious beliefs.”

      According to the State Department, the JIJ filed a petition to Israel’s
      High Court in May of this year on behalf of three Messianic Jews whose
      application for immigration was blocked by the Ministry of Interior.
      They cited an April 2008 High Court ruling according to which a person
      eligible to immigrate under the Law of Return could not be denied
      immigration rights on the basis of his identification as a Messianic
      Jew. “The case was ongoing at the end of the reporting period,” the
      report noted.

      Noting that “most Jews were opposed to missionary activity directed at
      Jews,” the report still had this to say about grass-roots
      counter-missionary efforts in Israel:

      “The Messianic Jewish and Jehovah's Witnesses communities, among others,
      accused groups such as Yad L'Achim and Lev L'Achim, and Jewish religious
      organizations opposed to missionary activity, of harassing and
      occasionally assaulting their members. According to Yad L'Achim's annual
      report for 2008, quoted in the newspaper Yom L'Yom, the organization
      ‘saved 174 souls from the clutches of the [Messianic and evangelical]
      mission" during the year.’ The organization's semi-clandestine
      Counter-Missionary Department, headed by Rabbi Alex Artovski, also
      claimed to have dozens of informants and infiltrators in the Government
      and in Christian or Messianic Jewish congregations, enabling the
      organization to force the closure of 18 religious meeting places and
      expel 12 ‘top-ranking’ missionaries from the country during 2008.”

      Agudath Israel: Israel is True to Its Foundational Ideal
      Agudath Israel of America stated, “Criticism of Israel for being true to
      its foundational ideal is ill-conceived.” The organization issued the
      following statement in response to the report: “Much of the criticism of
      Israel in the [report] is misplaced. The United States is rightly proud
      of its tradition as a republic that embraces no official religion. But
      numerous other countries, with equal pride, define themselves as Muslim
      or Christian. One country was created as a Jewish state. Israel’s choice
      of timeless Jewish tradition in the public realm and with regard to
      issues of personal status requires no apology. Criticism of Israel for
      being true to its foundational ideal is ill-conceived.”

      For its part, the JewishIsrael organization concludes that the State
      Department’s report is a “clear case of Judeo-Christian tolerance and
      values becoming tyranny. In a sort of ‘clash of civilizations,’ Jewish
      heritage and tradition has been pitted against American-style Freedom of
      Religion and Democracy. The bitter irony is that it was Orthodox Jew
      Michael Horowitz of the Hudson Institute who in the mid-1990’s, teamed
      up with evangelicals and spearheaded the Congressional International
      Religious Freedoms Act of 1998 which would result in the current State
      Department reports which are now challenging Israel’s right to be a
      Jewish nation. That this law and subsequent reports would be used to
      defend missionary activity in Israel, promote ‘messianic’ Christianity
      as Judaism, and pressure Israel into withdrawing counter-missionary
      legislation, was written on the wall early on, and in a number of
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