A Daily Analysis
By Marc Schulman
March 23 2011 Bombing in Jerusalem, Missiles in Beersheva, and Ashdod, the Ministry of Interior Refuses ot Accept US Orthodox Conversions
It was a good run, some might say. A relatively extended period during which Israel was not in the news (or at least, not much). With so many events taking place simultaneously in today's world, the terrible events in Jerusalem's center hardly made the news in most outlets. Were the news cycle today in its normal mode, the bombing in Jerusalem would have been the lead-off headline. So, unfortunately, Jerusalem has once again returned to the front page with a bombing that killed 1 person and wounded at least 30 more. No organization took responsibility for the bombing and the Prime Minister of the Palestinian Authority was quick to condemn the attack. What individual or organization was behind the attack remains unclear; according to one source, there is somwhat of a theory that the attack is tied to a bomb found -- before it exploded -- on Hebron Road a month ago. We can only hope that we are not returning to the times when bombings were the norm and quiet days the exception. While some observers do not believe that a new round of bombings is in the offing, the fear of renewed violence is once again palpable in some quarters.
In the south, the situation is arguably more dangerous with events spiraling out of control. Grad missiles landed in Beersheba and the outskirts of Ashdod today. School session have been cancelled in Beersheba at least until Sunday. Tonight, Israel retaliated, attacking Hamas targets in Gaza. The question being asked is, where is the Iron Dome defense system? The simple answer: the IDF has not acquired enough systems and has not deployed them. The IDF continues to prefer offensive weapons to defensive ones. It's not immediately clear how bad it will get, but observers believe that it is not in the interests of either side to let the situation worsen further. However, after recent demonstrations in Gaza in Hamas, it may be in Hamas' interest to force a confrontation with Israel at this time, deflecting pressure from itself..
A new and even more absurd controversy has developed in Israel over conversions. It seems the Ministry of Interior, which is controlled by the Shas party, is refusing to accept many Orthodox conversions from the United States and Canada, thereby denying converts citizenship. by law, they are forced to accept Reform and Conservative conversions but not all Orthodox ones. Rabbi Ovadia Yosef recently accused American Orthodox rabbis of taking bribes to perform conversions. At present, there are 13 cases of Orthodox converts from North America who cannot make aliyah due to this new (and ridiculously embarrassing) dispute. --
Rabbi Hammerman wrote an excellent op-ed in the Jewish Week called Itamar, Cairo, and the Culture of Victimhood. Its even more relevant today then yesterday