web analytics
April 19, 2015 / 30 Nisan, 5775
At a Glance
News & Views
Sponsored Post


Orthodox Groups Blast State Dept. Report On Religious Freedom


WASHINGTON – A State Department report on religious freedom is drawing sharp criticism from Orthodox Jewish groups over its portrayal of Israel.


The groups are denouncing what they call the unfair and biased criticism of Israel in the annual International Religious Freedom Report. Released last month, the report evaluates the levels of religious freedom in countries throughout the world, dubbing some “Countries of Particular Concern.”


While the 2009 report does not list Israel as a “CPC,” and even credits the country for supporting “the generally free practice of religion,” it does take issue with Israel’s treatment of non-Jews and non-Orthodox Jews.


The report cites the Israeli government’s recognition only of Orthodox authorities in certain civil matters, its refusal to allow interfaith marriages and the lack of public transportation in most Israeli cities on the Jewish Sabbath.


Two Orthodox organizations, the National Council of Young Israel and Agudath Israel of America, defended Israel and called into question the timing of and motivation behind the criticism. And the Orthodox Union’s main representative in Washington, Nathan Diament, said the organization had conveyed its concerns to the State Department but declined to elaborate.


“It just seems somewhat strange that with real issues of international significance facing the U.S. on multiple fronts at this time, including Iran, they would choose [now] to attack Israel, their only democratic ally and friend in the region,” said Aaron Troodler, communications director for the National Council of Young Israel.


In fact, the State Department has been required to file the annual report since 1998, with the U.S. government bound to take diplomatic steps to improve conditions in any nation the report deems a CPC. Among the repeat offenders: Iran, Saudi Arabia, China and Sudan.


The past few reports have similarly scrutinized Israel’s reliance on Orthodox Judaism as a religious compass, but this year’s analysis devotes more space to the matter and appears harsher, explicitly asserting that Israel “discriminates.” The 2008 document used milder language, describing Orthodox hegemony over some matters but stopping short of accusing Israel of discrimination.


Criticism of countries identified as CPCs, such as Iran, meanwhile, remained largely the same from 2008 to 2009.


The State Department is standing by its current report.


In response to a JTA query, the State Department issued a statement saying it looks at any “states with an official affiliation with mosque or church through the same lens of concern for the rights of the less observant or minorities.”


Uri Regev, a Reform rabbi who runs the newly created organization Hiddush, said the toughness in tone should not surprise Orthodox groups.


“You can’t escape the irony of Jews seeking freedom in Israel and then turning around and denying other Jews religious freedom,” said Regev, whose organization is challenging the special status in Israel of the Orthodox. “This gives us an opportunity which I hope the Jewish community is going to take advantage of, mainly what is the core character of Israel? It is important that we recognize that Israel is not and should not be a theocracy.”


The Jewish Reconstructionist Federation declined to comment; the Conservative-affiliated Rabbinical Assembly did not return calls.


The New Israel Fund, which fundraises for Israeli groups that promote civil liberties, said the report underscored the lack of equal access for the non-Orthodox in Israel.


In a statement, NIF noted that there had been some improvements in recent years – particularly for agunot – women denied the opportunity to divorce recalcitrant husbands – but said the “political stranglehold” of the religious parties on civil matters should concern American Jews.

(JTA)

About the Author:


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Orthodox Groups Blast State Dept. Report On Religious Freedom”

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
Said Arikat, al-Quds Washington, D.C. reporter. Jan. 29, 2015
More PA Lobbying from the State Dept Briefing Room
Latest News Stories
Iran's Natanz nuclear site.

Obama figures he can deal with Iran by letting it humiliate him.

Said Arikat, al-Quds Washington, D.C. reporter. Jan. 29, 2015

Once again a Palestinian Arab journalist sought money for the PA during a State Dept. press briefing

Capoeira Flag

Mickey Hayat practices Capoeira, a Brazilian martial art that combines elements of dance, acrobatics and music, as he holds an Israeli national flag, ahead of Israeli Independence Day.

ISIS affiliates murdering Christian Africans in Libya

ISIS brutally murders African Christians, blaming Christians for Muslim murders throughout the world.

The “Palestinians” have a long history of targeting Israeli athletes.

The West grants the right to vote. Islamists want to take it away. Will they tell US Muslims not to vote?

An Israeli TV news reporter describes her experience with European anti-Semitism on the job and how it affected her.

PM Netanyahu warns that world powers are ignoring Iran’s increased aggression in the Middle East.

Childhood cancer rates in Haifa are much higher than in the rest of Israel, air pollution is blamed.

U.S. officials in the Middle East are on high alert after a Consulate was targeted in Iraqi Kurdistan by ISIS.

It is going to be a very windy Independence Day. Snow will fall on the upper slopes of the Hermon.

Newly-trained pilots at Turkish Airlines are being urged to marry in order to avoid tragedies in the air.

Bayit Yehudi wants the Religious Affairs Ministry, Yisrael Beytenu wants the Foreign Affairs Ministry, and both feel Netanyahu is trying to short-change them. It’s a match made in heaven.

The lives of Gaza residents under Hamas go from miserable to even more miserable.

Obama to maintain phased-in sanctions relief pegged to compliance; he’ll give Iran a huge signing bonus instead!

She is unconscious and on a respirator at Hadassah Ein Karem hospital.

More Articles from Anath Hartmann

WASHINGTON – A State Department report on religious freedom is drawing sharp criticism from Orthodox Jewish groups over its portrayal of Israel.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/orthodox-groups-blast-state-dept-report-on-religious-freedom-2/2009/11/18/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: