Regime of the extreme

Is Israel a religious Zionist state or a charedi ayatollah state?

We’ve heard this news before:

Israel’s Chief Rabbinate rejects conversions authorized by top U.S. Orthodox rabbis.

Israel’s government has rejected the Supreme Court’s ruling in favor of women being allowed to read from the Torah in the women’s section at the Western Wall.

The coalition government strikes down a law mandating ultra-Orthodox conscription into the IDF.

And now, in its latest affront, Israel indefinitely freezes the agreement for a state-recognized egalitarian prayer space at the Western Wall.

Reading this troubling news year after year, I keep wondering if and when Israel will start balancing its civil rights laws with its coalition needs? Quite honestly, as an Israeli and an American Jew, the charedi parties’ hijacking of Israel’s democratic institutions make me feel that this is an affront to us all. I believe that this struggle is not less important than defending ourselves against Iran’s ayatollah state. As matter fact, if we’re not careful, we might actually become one.

I am not alone in this and, as matter of fact, the Jewish Agency has just issued a severe and unprecedented criticism of the government’s approval of a bill to grant the Chief Rabbinate a total monopoly over conversion in Israel and the prayer space at the Western Wall.

Rabbi Donniel Hartman suggested that “Suspending the Kotel agreement is … an affront to Zionism, its dreams and aspirations. It is an affront to Israel’s commitment to being a Jewish democracy. It threatens Israel’s core identity and future.”

Journalist and author Yossi Klein Halevi wrote: “In the fiftieth year of the liberation of the Wall, the government of Israel has told a majority of diaspora Jewry that it has no organized place in our most resonant public space. If unity helped us return to Jerusalem, what does our squabbling over the Wall portend?”

In a time when we demand that the U.S. administration move its embassy to Jerusalem, let us start by making Jerusalem a democratic city first.

This is a travesty. We cannot just let Israel devolve into a totalitarian regime of the extreme.

We need to stop the passive acceptance of such dictatorship. The government yields to the demands of the extreme members in its midst, but we, the diaspora, that supports Israel with over a billion dollars a year of Israel Bonds, should have our say as well.

We tried negotiations — but everything failed. We need to stop capitulating in the face of rabbinic excuses and justifications. We must invigorate our Jewish media and the public to pressure the government, in a rebellion of the moderate Jewish world.

Charedi politics is taking over Israel, trampling public rights, while the charedim keep condemning the very state whose rules they are dictating.

This has to stop immediately.

Soli Israel Foger

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