Speaking in a Knesset debate about price controls, which come
under the supervision of Justice Minister Yossi Beilin, MK
Rabbi Moshe Gafni tried to show the demand of Beilin for an
unrestricted approach to conversions, an approach Beilin
called "pluralistic," is completely unreasonable.
"Just imagine," said Rabbi Gafni, "if every business would
decide on its own how much interest it will pay the bank. . .
. If someone wants to sue another, he will set up his own
court. Each person will be able to use the court he prefers.
That is absolute pluralism. Everything is liberal, free. . .
. The Minister of Justice has taken the most fundamental
area, that of personal status and proposed pluralism in it.
Everyone will be able to marry as he wishes, according to any
law that he cares to adopt. One will be able to convert in
the same way. . . . [Even] a chess club has membership
requirements that will admit some and bar others, according
to the rules. The Minister of Justice comes and proposes that
on conversion, everyone can do as he pleases. I think this is
a failure of the first order [of the Minister of Justice to
uphold the rule of law]. The government has failed in this
area and the Minister of Justice has done something very
Earlier in the week at a meeting of the Knesset Committee for
Aliya and Absorption, Justice Minister Yossi Beilin said that
he supports both "secular and non-Orthodox conversion." In
his opinion, the Orthodox should be deprived of its
"monopoly" on conversion issues.
Beilin made these disconcerting remarks in a committee
discussion on the Law of Return and the conversion issue. He
expressed support for changing the Law of Return, and said:
"I would like the law to contain a more liberal definition of
`who is a Jew' as well as a more conservative approach to the
definition of relatives and accompanying people. We must
deprive the Orthodox of their monopoly over the definition of
`who is a Jew.' It is inconceivable that the definition of an
immigrant should be dependent solely on the Rabbinate's
decision. . . . As far as I am concerned, every stream can
establish its own genealogical records and abide by its own
rules without dictating to others what to do."
Beilin noted that he is aware that he is speaking about a
dream with no chance of materializing. However, he hopes that
even if it doesn't come to fruition immediately, it might do
so twenty years from now.
Absorption Minister Yuli Tamir made menacing remarks in
support of non-halachic conversions, although she
believes that the Law of Return should not be amended. She
suggested: "An open conversion system should be developed: a
humane, pluralistic one that will recognize the immigrants'
Judaism according to their awareness, not according to
Chairman of the Aliya Committee, MK Naomi Blumenthal (Likud)
did not express support of non-Orthodox "conversions."
However, she supported a change in the Law of Return which
would, as she said, "introduce a declarative element to
express the will of the applicant to join the Jewish nation
and its legacy and to link his fate to the fate of the
Former Absorption Minister Yuli Edelstein of Yisrael B'Aliya,
warned against the fact that the Jewish Agency is encouraging
the immigration of non-Jews. Within its programs, they are
eligible for immigration by the Law of Return. According to
Edelstein, if the Jewish Agency would stop these activities,
the immigration of non-Jews would decrease sharply.
Rabbi Shmuel Halpert warned against the vast non-Jewish
immigration, noting that the Law of Return is a poor law
which should be amended in order to prevent the immigration
of so many non-Jews. He said that the percentage of non-Jews
in today's waves of immigration is 70-80%, and that if the
situation is not rectified, Israel will soon become a multi-
national (and non-Jewish) state.
Rabbi Moshe Gafni left the committee meeting room in a
demonstrative manner when the floor was given to a Reform
representative. He said that he is not willing to participate
in a discussion with people who constitute a danger to the
existence of the Jewish Nation.