Menu JTA Search

Don’t Use ‘who is a Jew’ Bill As Bargaining Chip, Says Group

The American Jewish Congress approved a resolution at its 70th annual convention here this week urging Israel’s political parties not to use the inflammatory “Who is a Jew” issue as a bargaining chip should they need to form a coalition government after the Nov. 1 elections.

The resolution, adopted unanimously, stated that any change in Israel’s Law of Return altering the definition of a Jew would undermine the unity of the Jewish people and alienate the vast majority of American Jewry.

The Law of Return makes every Jew automatically eligible for Israeli citizenship. It defines a Jew as a person born of a Jewish mother or converted to Judaism.

The Israeli rabbinate and the religious political parties have been trying for decades to have the law amended to exclude persons converted by non-Orthodox rabbis.

The religious parties have made their participation in coalition governments conditional on promises to force the amendment through the Knesset. Though introduced many times, it has so far failed to win adoption.

Robert Lifton, AJCongress national president, distributed the resolution Sunday in Tel Aviv, at a meeting of WIZO, the Women’s International Zionist Organization, devoted to the upcoming elections.

NEXT STORY