Den israelske regjering bestemte før helgen å legge spørsmålet om hvem som skal ha rett til å avgjøre hvem som er jøde, på is i et halvt år. I mellom tiden skal en kommisjon under Natan Sharanskij arbeide med saken.

Ingenting er mer eksplosivt både i Israel og diaspora enn spørsmålet om «hvem som er jøde». Netanyahus regjering var i ferd med å overlate avgjørelsen til det ortodokse sjefsrabbinatet som har en meget streng definisjon. Det kunne ført til at et stort antall jøder i feks. USA ikke lenger ville bli anerkjent som jøder, det samme gjelder mange russiske innvandrere til Israel.

Også Netanyahu har fått med seg at dette spørsmålet kan sprenge jødisk solidaritet. Mister Israel støtten fra USAs jøder er landet ille ute.

Late Thursday night, the office of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu issued a statement that Natan Sharansky, the head of the Jewish Agency, would lead a committee of the Reform, Conservative and Orthodox movements and that no conversion law would be submitted before January. Litigation in the Israeli Supreme Court on the same topic led by the Reform and Conservative movements would be suspended for the same period.

The idea of delay came from Mr. Netanyahu, who said this week that the proposed law, which had passed a parliamentary committee, “could tear apart the Jewish people.” He had received tens of thousands of enraged e-mail messages from American Jews who had been urged to contact him by their rabbis. Many American Jews consider the Netanyahu government to be too hawkish, and the conversion controversy is seen by some analysts here and in the United States as a proxy for a broader set of disagreements, including settlement building and the Gaza blockade.

he bill that so enraged American Jewish leaders was actually aimed at making conversion easier for the 300,000 Israelis who moved here from the former Soviet Union in the 1990s and are not, by Orthodox rabbinic law, considered Jewish because they come from mixed parentage. The law would have done that by granting conversion powers to local rabbis across the country, a group considered closer to their communities.

But after objections from the ultra-Orthodox, the bill formally placed authority for conversion in the hands of the chief rabbinate and declared Orthodox Jewish law to be the basis of conversion, making Americans fear that their more lenient conversion processes would be invalidated.

As Rabbi David Schuck of the Pelham Jewish Center in Westchester said of the bill, “It spits in the face of Diaspora Jews in particular, and if passed, it would be an acquiescence of the majority of Israeli Jews to a fundamentalist interpretation of Judaism.”

Israel Puts Off Crisis Over Conversion Law