The Yisrael Beitenu party's conversion bill, which gives the Israeli Chief Rabbinate exclusive authority over conversion to Judaism in Israel, has aroused protest among Jews in the US. The attempt by two of the bill's sponsors, Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Daniel Ayalon and MK David Rotem, to sell their legislative initiative in meetings with Conservative and Reform leaders has failed. One heavy buyer of Israel Bonds went so far as to declare, "Why should I buy bonds of a country that won’t let me be buried in it?"
Following the meetings, the leaders of the Conservative, Reform, and Reconstructionist movements in the US published a joint statement saying that the conversion bill "will be disastrous for the unity of the Jewish people." The statement says the bill will have a destructive effect on relations between Israel and the Diaspora and that its message is that only orthodox Jews have a place in Israel.
Rotem told the "New York Jewish Week" that his concern was to solve the problem of the half million immigrants to Israel from Russia who wanted to convert, and that the bill had nothing to do with conversions in the US.
Sources in the Jewish establishment, who asked not to be named, told "Globes" that Israel's estranged attitude to Jews outside of its borders was likely to have immediate and substantial effects, particularly on money raising through Israel Bonds. "As far as I'm concerned, buying bonds is not an economic action but an expression of support for the land of my fathers," one source said. "If the land of my fathers turns its back on me, I'm sure there are people who will say 'What do I need this for?'. I myself haven't decided how I will act."
Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on May 9, 2010
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