Dangerous religious radicalization
The life story of an Ethiopian immigrant is the tragedy of a woman who immigrated from Africa to Israel only to encounter narrow-minded, malicious treatment by the establishment.
The life story of the Ethiopian immigrant who was injured when a yeshiva student hit her with his car in a Jerusalem parking lot in 2006 is the tragedy of a woman who immigrated from Africa to Israel only to encounter narrow-minded, malicious treatment by the Israeli establishment.
Judge Moshe Drori decided not to convict the student, Itamar Biton, so as not to harm his chances of being appointed as a rabbinical court judge, though he did order Biton to pay the plaintiff compensation and do community service. The judge even said that thanks to the accident and the court case, the young woman "was finally accepted into society as an equal."
But was she indeed? Yair Ettinger reported in Haaretz on Tuesday that a rabbinical court has unexpectedly annulled the woman's conversion to Judaism, six years after the fact. This was just one of the dozens of conversions the rabbinical courts have annulled recently, all of them performed by the former head of the government's conversion administration, Rabbi Haim Druckman.
Druckman was appointed to facilitate the absorption and integration of immigrants who came to Israel under the Law of Return but were not recognized as Jews according to halakha. But the Haredi (ultra-Orthodox) rabbinical establishment disapproved of his activity, and he left his post last year, after the Rabbinical Court of Appeals revoked one of his conversions.
Since then, rabbinical court judges have been reexamining every conversion performed by Druckman and his deputies. This is another stage in the takeover of the Israeli religious establishment by its extremist ultra-Orthodox wing. Under Jewish law, annulling a conversion is an extremely harsh move. Yet in recent months, these reexaminations have led to the revocation of dozens of conversions, all of women, many of whom had married and had children after converting. Now their children, too, are no longer registered as Jews, and their citizenship may even be revoked - not to mention the difficulties they will have getting married in the future.
These annulments, which place a more rigorous interpretation of halakha above every civil and human value, are also being accepted relatively easily amid the racist, separatist atmosphere that now prevails in the Interior Ministry. This approach is reflected in the ministry's treatment of new immigrants in general and converts in particular. There is no avoiding the conclusion that this is yet another price Israeli society is paying for the rule of a rightist-Haredi coalition.