WZO to gov’t: Don’t reinstate religion clause on Israeli ID

If the State of Israel wants to continue being the state of the Jewish people, then it must treat the world’s Jews with respect.

June 26, 2011 03:43
2 minute read.
New immigrants receiving ID cards at airport

Getting ID teudat zehut airport 311. (photo credit: Yitzhak Elharar / Scoop 80)


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The World Zionist Organization on Friday urged the government not to reinstate a clause that formerly appeared in Israeli identification cards specifying the holder’s religion.

Gathering in Jerusalem for its annual meeting, the Zionist organization’s governing committee easily passed the resolution against the opposition of delegates from the Likud and Shas parties criticizing the government’s recent decision.

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“We believe such an act will sow discord among the Jewish people and we oppose the proposed change,” said delegates from the Masorti (Conservative) Movement, who voted in favor of the motion.

“Most of the world’s Jews are not Orthodox. If the State of Israel wants to continue being the state of the Jewish people, then it must treat the world’s Jews with respect."

“The Interior Ministry’s decision to reinstate the religion clause alienates converts to Judaism who are not Orthodox, violates the Supreme Court’s ruling and sends a message of contempt and humiliation to millions of Jews around the world,” the delegates said.

The entry known as the “religion” or “nationality” clause, states the holder’s religion as either Jewish, Muslim, Christian or Other, and has appeared in local identification cards since the British Mandate.

Since 2004, the spot has been filled with asterisks on new IDs, after the High Court of Justice ruled it unlawful for Israeli Jews who underwent conversions conducted by the Reform Judaism movement not to be listed as Jews in their identity cards.

The current Interior Minister Eli Yishai of the ultra- Orthodox party Shas – then in his first tenure in that capacity – decided to scrap the clause rather than change it according to the court’s ruling.

Last week, Yishai decided to reinstate the clause and continue the policy of not listing Israelis who underwent Reform conversions as Jews.

Opponents of his decision have said it violates the High Court’s ruling.

Founded in 1897, the WZO is an umbrella group consisting of delegates from secular Jewish outfits like Maccabi and Hadassah, as well as Jewish-religious representatives from the Masorti, Reform and Orthodox movements.

The annual gathering started Thursday night at an event attended by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, WZO Chairman Avraham Duvdevani and 180 delegates from around the world.

Duvdevani said his organization’s aim is to regenerate Zionism and strengthen ties between Jews in the Diaspora and Israel.

Netanyahu said building roads and railways to the North and South of the country was the 21st-century incarnation of Zionism.

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