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Tuesday, February 11, 2014 

Haredi politicians who attacked Yair Netanyahu's affair with non-Jewish girl did a disservice to Israel

In the past two weeks, a subject came up I'd wanted to address, that being the prime minister's son having an affair with a girl from Norway - who happens to come from a Christian Zionist family and whose sister converted to Judaism - yet Haredi politicians like Aryeh Deri had the gall to attack this as though it were the worst thing that could happen.

Ruthie Blum addressed the subject as best as possible:
...mainstream Israelis do not accept the haredi position on anything connected with Judaism in general and interpersonal relations in particular. The secular Israeli press in this case has been defending the Netanyahu family, something it hates having to do, and the reportage in the foreign press has been wildly exaggerated.
Indeed it has. Deri, who has little respect for Zionism, obviously did this just to score points on an issue he has little qualification to address. And doesn't he know anything about biblical Ruth, a Moabite who'd converted to Judaism, or Lev 19, which speaks of the importance of respecting those who can convert and prove as good at observance as the indigenous Israelis? I've been getting the feeling that would-be followers of Judaism like Deri despise biblical Ruth yet don't have the courage to say so.

Dennis Prager also chimed in:
It is very unfortunate that so many Jews — especially among those who practice Judaism the most fervently, ironically — see the dating of a Jew and a non-Jew solely as a guarantor of the Jew leaving Judaism. Given that Judaism accepts converts — and that Judaism so reveres converts that it holds that the moshiach (Messiah) will come from a convert (Ruth) — why don’t we simply encourage the non-Jew to convert? The marriage of a Jew and a convert is not an intermarriage.
I've certainly wondered why hardly any Jewish missionaries make an attempt to prosyltise to non-Jews. It was done in the past, until it was outlawed by the Roman empire, but today there's plenty of opportunity to do it again, and there is a chance it could help win over people who've left Christianity and become secular.

The deputy minister for religious affairs, Eli Ben-Dahan, had a much better response:
Deputy Religious Affairs Minister Eli Ben-Dahan (Jewish Home) denounced the media storm around the love affair between Yair Netanyahu and his Norwegian girlfriend Sandra Leikanger Friday, calling the scandal "inappropriate."

When asked for his opinion on Army Radio, the Minister responded, "I don't usually get involved in people's private lives, especially not marital issues. But I do think the relationship is inappropriate; she should convert if the relationship is to continue."

Ben-Dahan slammed the media as well, saying "it is not fitting" for the Israeli media to harp on about the issue.
So while he has some misgivings, he has nothing against their having a relationship if she'd convert, which shows that he's a lot more in tune with biblical Ruth's story than a charlatan like Deri. I have a cousin who's married to a convert of Irish-American background, who's fully accepted as part of the family, and the Haredis who attacked Netanyahu and Leikanger's affair slighted my relatives just as badly.

For now, the MSM's let it go, and the Haredi politicians have hopefully done the same. Maybe in the future, they'll think of a better response like "we'd be a lot more comfy with this relationship if the lady would convert". And maybe they'll think of prosyltizing to non-Jews more often too.

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  • I'm Avi Green
  • From Jerusalem, Israel
  • I was born in Pennsylvania in 1974, and moved to Israel in 1983. I also enjoyed reading a lot of comics when I was young, the first being Fantastic Four. I maintain a strong belief in the public's right to knowledge and accuracy in facts. I like to think of myself as a conservative-style version of Clark Kent. I don't expect to be perfect at the job, but I do my best.
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