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Feb 14, 2009


A new Jewish state: Ha’aretz

Since the exit poll results were published at 10 P.M. on Tuesday, I have heard more than one liberal-minded Israeli frantically trying to find a silver lining to the storm cloud that is the elevation of Yisrael Beiteinu leader Avigdor Lieberman to the nation’s kingmaker. Their source of optimism? The party’s policies on state and religion. Yisrael Beiteinu may want to disenfranchise 20 percent of Israel’s citizens, they say, but is also the leading proponent of new legislation to allow a form of civil marriage in Israel, ending the scandalous situation whereby only Orthodox rabbis and or recognized clergymen of other religions are allowed to perform weddings, and hundreds of thousands of mixed couples or those whose religious status is unclear are incapable of getting married in Israel. The party has also been vigorously pushing for a major reform in giyur (conversion) procedures that will take the keys to the gateway to the Jewish people away from the special rabbinical courts – controlled today by the ultra-conservative, ultra-Orthodox “Lithuanian” rabbinical establishment – and make it much easier for the 300,000 immigrants from the former Soviet Union not officially recognized as Jews to formally join the tribe. Some even find a spark of light in Lieberman’s demand that all citizens be made to pledge allegiance to Israel. It might seem like a racist idea targeting Israeli Arabs, but it also puts pressure on the Haredim since the pledge includes a commitment to serving in the IDF or an equivalent civilian national service, anathema to the ultra-Orthodox community.

Yeah. Sounds like the Shalom Achshav (Peace Now) people will come to love Lieberman after all… is their endless ability to cheat themselves not entrancing?

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