Cutting off her nose (and ours) to spite her face

Livni has vetoed a crucial reform of the rabbinate even though it mainly helps her own constituents.

By
June 4, 2013 16:43
Tzipi Livni

Livni. (photo credit: Reuters)

 
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Justice Minister Tzipi Livni has successfully marketed herself as a champion of liberal values. But liberal values evidently come a distant second to personal pique: Otherwise, she wouldn’t be vetoing a bill to liberalize one of the most illiberal bastions of Israeli society – at the expense not of the party she is mad at, but of her own constituents.

The bill in question, sponsored by the Bayit Yehudi party, would significantly reduce the haredi (ultra-Orthodox)-dominated rabbinate’s ability to torment couples seeking to wed. Current law requires couples to register in the city where one of them lives, meaning they can at best choose between two municipal chief rabbis, and sometimes have no choice whatsoever. Some municipal rabbis have exploited this monopolistic power to make life miserable for applicants – especially, though not exclusively, converts (some haredi rabbis don’t recognize the state-sponsored conversion system) and immigrants from the former Soviet Union (who often have trouble producing sufficient proof of their Jewishness to satisfy more stringent rabbis).

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