+972 Magazine's Stories of the Week

Directly In Your Inbox

Analysis News
Visit our Hebrew site, "Local Call" , in partnership with Just Vision.

Israel's two-faced policy regarding American Jews

A couple of news items, published on the same evening, reveal what Israel’s government really thinks of American Jews.

Israel’s new ambassador to the UN, Ron Prosor, has met Jewish leaders in New York and—for lack of a better word—ordered them to join Jerusalem’s diplomatic moves against the Palestinian leadership. This is from Haaretz (my bold):

During a closed meeting of the Conference of Presidents of Major Jewish American Organizations in New York, Prosor said that talk was not enough at such a crucial time, and that the U.S. Jewish community must prepare a clear operational plan.


Prosor stressed before the Jewish leaders that they must take advantage of the Jewish community’s connections with decision makers in order to get results.

At the same time, back at home, Interior Minister Eli Yishai announced his plan to reinstate the practice of noting nationality on Israeli identity cards. Until 2002, every ID stated whether an Israeli is a Jew or not—but only orthodox Jews were recognized as such. Jews converted by Reform and Conservative rabbis had the “nationality” article left blank on their ID.

Ynet reports:

Interior Minister Eli Yishai has signed a regulation that reinstates the nationality notation in the identification cards of all citizens who were eligible for the document before 2002.

Yishai decision’s calls for the nationality section in ID cards issued to people who converted to Judaism through the Reform or Conservative movements to remain blank.

Most of the United States’ Jews are Reform or Conservative. The Israeli establishment hardly recognizes them as part of the Jewish people. One cannot even have a reform wedding in Israel. Still, Reform and Conservative Jews are good for something – Israel welcomes their donations, and demands their political support.

And what do you know? More often than not, Jerusalem gets what it wants.

Before you go...

A lot of work goes into creating articles like the one you just read. And while we don’t do this for the money, even our model of non-profit, independent journalism has bills to pay.

+972 Magazine is owned by our bloggers and journalists, who are driven by passion and dedication to the causes we cover. But we still need to pay for editing, photography, translation, web design and servers, legal services, and more.

As an independent journalism outlet we aren’t beholden to any outside interests. In order to safeguard that independence voice, we are proud to count you, our readers, as our most important supporters. If each of our readers becomes a supporter of our work, +972 Magazine will remain a strong, independent, and sustainable force helping drive the discourse on Israel/Palestine in the right direction.

Support independent journalism in Israel/Palestine Donate to +972 Magazine today
View article: AAA
Share article
Print article

    * Required


    1. Leonid Levin

      Noam, maybe a bit off point, but how about the Jewish immigrants from the former USSR? Most of them were secular. What do they have on their ID: Jew or blank?

      Reply to Comment
    2. dannyk

      Are you clutching at straws in an attempt to create controversy? The two items are totally unrelated and in no way can be taken to reflect a “two-faced” policy regarding American Jews…

      Reply to Comment
    3. @Leonid: good question. If I find some info on this, I’ll post it.

      Reply to Comment
    4. Igor

      @Leonid, those who were able to prove the jewishness of their maternal grandmother were marked Jews (at least, up until 2002, when the Nationality field was cancelled).
      The point is that the Rabbinate have never relied on the ID. People who are going to get married have to pass a degrading procedure of proving their jewishness to a Rabbinate official.

      Reply to Comment
    5. I think that American Jews and Jews worldwide should speak out and stress that a comprehensive, sustainable resolution of the Israeli/Palestinian conflict is essential to enable Israel to avoid a very damaging intifada and/or war, to solve its environmental, economic, and other domestic problems, and to remain both a Jewish and a democratic state.

      Time is not on Israel’s side as the UN General Assembly is likely to declare a Palestinian state in September. So, while it will be very difficult, it is essential that everything possible be done to obtain a peaceful resolution.

      While we can win a thousand debates pointing out the many things that the Palestinians and other Arabs have done wrong and how much Israel has already done to seek peace, i think it is essential to seek common ground and solutions. For I see a very bleak future for Israel if there is no comprehensive, sustainable solution of the present conflict.

      Reply to Comment
    6. Ben Israel

      Time is definitely on Israel’s side. Compare Israel’s situation today with 30, 40, 50 or 60 years ago. Israel is pulling further ahead, the Arabs are falling further and further behind. Maybe they will finally get the idea that confrontation with Israel is a dead end and cooperation can benefit everyone. However, with political Islam in the ascendency, this awaking will still take considerable time.

      Reply to Comment
    7. zvi

      I wonder what the state of civic affairs in Israel would be/have been, had there *not* been a conflict over the land. Nothing like an ‘existential’ threat to one’s existence to unite people! Take that away, and what do we have?

      Given the cacophony of competing narratives and opinions on a whole range of issues related to governance, combined with the dysfunctional nature of Israeli democracy which gives disproportionate power to certain groups, I am not so sure….

      Reply to Comment
    8. Danny

      Amazing chutzpah by Israel. I wonder how these American Jews remained in their seats as this slob was giving them marching orders to go do Israel’s bidding, as if they owe something to this pseudo-state that for some reason claims ownership to the modern global Jewish narrative. If I were in attendance at this meeting, I would tell this bag-of-guts to go back to his master in West Jerusalem and ask him why he didn’t freeze settlement construction for an additional 3 months like President Obama asked (some would say begged) him to.

      Reply to Comment
    9. Shoded Yam

      “…If I were in attendance at this meeting, I would tell this bag-of-guts to go back to his master in West Jerusalem and ask him why he didn’t freeze settlement construction for an additional 3 months like President Obama asked (some would say begged) him to.”
      Damm straight. Well said.

      Reply to Comment
    10. Philos

      @ Lenoid. I remember back in my Sadirnik days I was part of a “combat reserve battalion” in the anti-aircraft division of the Air Force. I was speaking to a few Russian olim who were there as drivers and I didn’t understand their open bitterness towards Israel. This was 2002, I was 18 and they were in their mid-30s. When I told them that Israel is a country for all the Jews one of them snapped and said, “Yea, so why does it say “Russian” in my ID card?” He showed it to me next to “de’ah” it said “Russi”
      This singular event along with roadblocks ended my naivety about my country

      Reply to Comment
    11. max

      Wow, a great forum to meet people who know not only what’s best for Israel but also how American Jews should behave! I wonder why Danny wasn’t there to tell them how to react to this bag-of-guts 🙂
      Interestingly, in America they focused on the Ambassador’s call for unity in order to get results.
      But I guess we all have the right for our private perspective.
      Based on Prosor’s active engagements in the UK, I foresee him starring here quite often.
      ID cards shouldn’t have a “nationality” notation as it’s irrelevant there for civic purposes

      Reply to Comment
    12. max

      Philos, so is Noam wrong or are you wrong? Your ‘facts’ don’t match.
      Isn’t “de’ah” = opinion?

      Reply to Comment
    13. Danny

      Philos, interesting that Russians have a “Russi” designation on their ID card. Didn’t know that. But it is consistent with Israel’s well-known policy of divide-and-conquer in regards to social demographics. The specter of Jewish intermingling with other faiths has made this country into a religious big brother that sees fit to keep tabs on its pool of “Kosher Jews” and making sure that these don’t leave the Jewish faith (through inter-marriage, for example). This is one of the reasons I left Israel for good.

      Reply to Comment