US Reform rabbis decry – but misread – ‘loyalty oath’

Central Conference of American Rabbis calls cabinet-approved amendment as contrary to Jewish and democratic values.

The Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR), a Reform rabbinical body claiming to be the world’s largest group of Jewish clergy, expressed its regret that the cabinet last Sunday okayed an amendment to the Citizenship Law that would require non-Jews seeking naturalization to pledge allegiance to Israel as a Jewish and democratic state.
In its statement, however, the CCAR mischaracterized the amendment, claiming that it “requires all non-Jewish persons to swear allegiance to Israel as a Jewish and democratic state in order to remain or become citizens of the State of Israel.”
RELATED:'Tea Party’s Christian ties will alienate Jewish voters'Most Israelis approve of Reform, Conservative conversionsIn fact, the legislation is aimed solely at those seeking citizenship who are not eligible for it under the Law of Return. No pledge would be demanded of natural-born citizens.
The CCAR states that it is because of its conviction that Israel must remain both a Jewish and democratic state that it opposes this legislation, as it “...diminishes Israel’s Jewish character and compromises its democratic commitment.”
According to the statement, the CCAR, which represents nearly 2,000 Reform rabbis, “the proposed legislation would indeed create one law for Jews and another law for non-Jews [violating standards set by the Torah]. It would turn Israel into the very kind of country which historically Jews themselves have rightly cursed for their unequal treatment of non-Christians and non-Muslims.”
The statement also says, “There can be no doubt but that the proposed ‘Loyalty Oath’ deprives the non-Jewish citizen of the very political rights and freedom of conscience assured in the Declaration [of Independence], and, in doing so, breaks its promise of ‘full and equal citizenship’ to ‘the Arab inhabitants of the State of Israel.’”