Wednesday, January 9, 2013

Shas Ad: A True Jew Won't Kiss a Russian Shikseh

Here's the gist of this election ad.  A wedding is taking place between two Israelis, one clearly Russian and one clearly of Mizarahi (a.k.a. Sephardi) extraction. It turns out that the Russian is waiting for her conversion to Judaism to come through on the fax machine. She reassures the bridegroom that she got her quickie conversion through Avigdor Lieberman's party, Israel Beiteinu The message of the ad is that if you don't vote for the religious Mizrahi party Shas, "shikses" like Marina will be marrying your children with these bogus conversions.

I learned of this ad from an article by Yair Ettinger in today's Haaretz, which noted the hatred of Russians and hypocrisy in the ad (Shas has itself been criticized for lax -- not fax -- conversion standards). But what the paper didn't note is the absurdity of religious conversion being taken up by political parties in the first place. Why should any state control religious conversion? Well, that's simple -- if the state is the nation-state of the Jewish people, and a sizable number of its population are religious fundamentalists, then those fundamentalists are going to insist that religious criteria determine who is a Jew for personal status issues If Shas had its way, it would determine citizenship also on that basis, but it lost that fight in court.

Shas and Israeli Beiteinu are two sides of the right-wing Zionist coin, and they are equally bigoted.
The problem is with the liberals, like Haaretz writer, Yair Ettinger, who concludes his article saying:
One good thing could come out of the controversy: perhaps the conversion crisis, which continues to deepen in the Netanyahu-Shas era, will finally make its way to the national agenda.
The conversion issue is only on the national agenda because the state interferes with religion. If some folks don't think that some rabbis' conversions are kosher, what business is that of the state? Let the religious communities decide who they accept and who they don't, and leave the state out of it.

Ah, but this is Israel, where religious affiliation makes you automatically into a returning citizen

The only country in the world, by the way. And that includes the Muslim world.


ADDeRabbi said...

Yesh Atid also wants to stay entangled, apparently.

pabelmont said...

"The" religious communities? Who chooses those? Are there 3 Jewish religions in Israel or more? or less? And about 100 subdivisions of Christianity, I'd suppose! (My father-in-law was born to a formerly Greek Orthodox family which had converted to (or become) Quakers. the story goes that, as an infant, he was kidnapped by relatives and taken to Jerusalem to be baptised because his relatives (G.O.) didn't want his soul endangered by Quaker non-baptism.

How many religions? and who chooses the officials?

Jerry Haber said...

Who chooses those, Pabelmont? The same folks who choose them in liberal democracies. Who chooses them in the United States?

I'm a follower of Yeshayahu Leibowitz on this one -- the state's involvement in religion hurts religion as much as it hurts the state.