Am Echad weekly update for the week of January 30, 2022
The Kotel Compromise
Diaspora Jews send 100,000 letters to PM Naftali Bennett calling him not to partition the Kotel. Over the last two weeks PM Bennett received over 100,000 letters from Jews in the Diaspora, expressing their opposition to the Kotel compromise. The letters were sent as part of an Am Echad campaign.
Prime Minister Naftali Bennett said in interview to the Jerusalem Post that the Kotel compromise is a "controversial topic in the current coalition" and therefore the government will not be able to implement it. Bennett added that "we will only act in consensus." In response to the interview, Rabbi Rick Jacobs, President of the Union for Reform Judaism said he is "outraged" by Bennett’s claims, stating "there is broad support in his coalition to finally move forward on this long delayed and eminently fair compromise" (Jerusalem Post).
The conversion reform
Thousands of rabbis from Israel and the Diaspora: we will not recognize unauthorized conversions. A thousand rabbis and dayanim from Israel convened Tuesday in Jerusalem, while a thousand more from around the globe joined via Zoom. The rabbis protested the reforms pushed by the Minister of Religious Affairs Matan Kahana, and especially the conversion reform. Several rabbis from the Diaspora spoke at the convention, including Rabbi Warren Goldstein, Chief Rabbi of South Africa, Rabbi Pesach Lerner, Chairman of Eretz Hakodesh movement, Rabbi Avichai Apel, Chief Rabbi of Frankfurt, and Rabbi Yehoram Ulman, Rosh Av Bet Din in Sidney, Australia. Rabbi Lerner said that "in the name of all the people who sent me and in the name of all the congregational rabbis we represent, there is no gap or difference in Halacha between the rabbis of Eretz Yisrael and the rabbis abroad." The convention concluded with the rabbis announcing that "the rabbis and dayanim of Israel will not recognize conversions that would not be approved by the Chief Rabbis of Israel." (Yeshivah World News, Israel National News).
Am Echad Israel Director, Leah Aharoni, warned that the conversion reform would create chaos that would harm converts (Jerusalem Post, Radio 2000, Kol Chai, Now14).
BDS and Anti-Israel Bias
Progressive Jewish organizations call on Congress to oppose the Abraham Accords. An array of progressive Jeiwsh organizations in the US attacked the Abraham Accords in light of the historic visit by President Isaac Herzog to the UAE this week. The organizations called on members of the US Congress to reject the agreements, calling them "the dangerous Trump administration “Abraham Accords”". The signing organizations included, among others, Jewish Voices for Peace Action, IfNotNow, Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), CodePink, Presbyterian Church (USA), and the Progressive Democrats of America.
In a one-sided biased report, Amnesty claims Israel practices apartheid against Palestinians. Amnesty International released a report on Tuesday accusing Israel of maintaining an apartheid regime against the Palestinians and against its own Israeli-Arab citizens. The report called on the international community to put pressure on Israel to stop alleged an "crime of apartheid and other international crimes." In response, Israel called the report "false, biased, and antisemitic" and accused the organization of endangering the safety of Jews around the world.
A telling example of the bias in the report would be the definition of the "intifada," as "Palestinian uprising against Israel’s military rule." In all 32 uses of the term in the report, it fails to acknowledge Palestinian terrorism and the murder and injury of thousands of Israelis. The report asserts that Israel repressed the intifada, and all the mentions leave the impression that the intifada was a peaceful uprising (Times of Israel).
Am Echad in the News