Meretz Platform Offers New Immigrants Jewish Identity Without Formal Conversion

The Meretz platform for the January 28 election is to include a revolutionary proposal to allow anyone who immigrates to Israel under the Law of Return to register as Jewish with the Population Registrar, as long as they are not a member of a different religion.

The proposal forms one of the main thrusts of the party's new campaign aimed at new immigrants. The proposal would affect any immigrant who conforms to the criteria laid out in the Law of Return, but, rather than undergoing a full orthodox conversion, is willing settle for being recognized as Jewish by the State of Israel.

The proposal was put forward yesterday at a Meretz press conference, as part of the party's immigrant campaign team, which is headed by Democratic Choice lawmaker Roman Bronfman. "The extent to which this idea succeeds is dependent on the immigrants themselves," said former justice minister Yossi Beilin, at his first appearance at a Meretz campaign event. "If the immigrants are willing to fight to be registered as Jews, we will spearhead their fight." The slogan chosen to accompany Meretz's Russian-language campaign - "Meretz - We are all Israelis" - is designed to portray the party as an egalitarian home for all Russian-speaking Israelis, whether they are Jewish or not.

The platform also includes three security-related issues: personal security - the establishment of a separation fence along the Green Line; economic security - reform of the National Insurance Institute and a free market, while ensuring government intervention on the issues of housing and employment; and civil security - focusing mainly on the separation of religion and state.