In a controversial and racist campaign video released Tuesday night slamming the High Court's recent ruling on conversion, the ultra-Orthodox United Torah Judaism Party showed pictures of dogs with kippot, comparing Reform Jews to dogs and saying that even dogs can be allowed to convert.
The court ruled on Monday that Reform and Conservative (Masorti) conversions performed in Israel would be accepted by the state for the purposes of obtaining citizenship under the Law of Return. Until now, those conversions were only valid if performed outside of Israel.
The video plays off of a common phrase ‘my grandfather was a rabbi’ by spinning it to “my grandmother was a rabbi,” feeding into another controversial dividing line between the different leadership roles for women within the Reform and Conservative movements and Orthodoxy.
“My father once told me about the parliament in Budapest that had a sign that read: ‘No entrance for Jews and dogs’ because antisemites always compare Jews to dogs,” retorted the leader of the opposition Yesh Atid head Yair Lapid.
In its ruling, the High Court said that there were zero religious implications for their decision, that it was born of secular-law questions and the right to citizenship.
The battle to get these conversions recognized had been going on for 15 years. It was approved by eight of the nine justices.
The High Court in 1988 ruled that for the purposes of Aliyah and citizenship, non-Orthodox conversions require recognition. However, that recognition was never extended to conversions performed in Israel.
Orthodox political parties — and even Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party — denounced the ruling, while left-wing parties and Reform and Masorti leaders lauded it as a win for democracy.
The video ends with the cry of “Only UTJ will preserve the Judaism of you as well as your grandchildren.”
“I am ashamed to see the inciting and violent videos released by the haredi parties, comparing women and men who chose to live in Israel with dogs,” said Rabbi Noa Sattath, who serves as director of the Reform movement’s local advocacy arm in Israel and as head of Israel’s Religious Action Center.
“The aggressive, hurtful and inciting conduct carried out by those who would wish to appropriate the Jewish religion to a small extremist faction... is the main cause for more and more men and women among the general public expressing aversion from Judaism currently being managed by the haredi sector and realizing that there is more than one way to be Jewish,” Sattath added.
Tobias Siegal contributed to this report.