Caught in politics and cross-fire
After consulting with other rabbinical authorities, Amar will rule if there is enough evidence to render the community members “safek” Jews, i.e., those whose claim to being Jewish weak enough to require conversion but strong enough to make it incumbent upon the Jewish community to take responsibility for them. [Jerusalem Post]
Although several hundred of the Bnei Menashe found their way to Israel over the last few years, the Israeli government stopped allowing immigration last year, pending further investigations.
Already, Israel’s interior minister, Avraham Poraz, has frozen the program that has permitted about 100 members of the Bnei Menashe community to immigrate annually. He is concerned that people from poor countries are coming to Israel to upgrade their standard of living, rather than because of historical and religious Jewish ties. [NYT | via IsraPundit]
The Palestinians too are outraged that some strange people are brought in from mountains thousands of miles away and given plots of land in what they see as Palestinian territories. More than opinions and attitude of their new neighbours, the Bnei Menashe have the peace process to contend with: they may become homeless if Ariel Sharon’s plan for withdrawal of settlements goes ahead.