I never before have written you, nor would I ever have imagined such a day would come. First, I doubt that you read open letters written in English. You are fluent in Arabic and Hebrew, but I would not expect you to know much of the Queen’s English (nor that of Kings County, Brooklyn, either).
Similarly, I don’t know Arabic, except for various profanities that do not have Hebrew equivalents but that I hear spoken by Israelis, especially during soccer (football) games and when yelling at each other in the Knesset. I do know a few Arab words and expressions, though, like “Itbakh al Yahud” and “Ramadan.” Still, I write you because “for everything there is a season and a time for everything under the Heavens.” And today is the day I am duty-bound to write the only Muslim Brotherhood associate I know of.
I write you because the Knesset soon will be deciding on protocols for defining who is a Jew. Until now, it has been the Israeli Chief Rabbinate that is the proper and final arbiters of this subject. Their standards and protocols are accepted in Israel and throughout the world by mainstream normative Orthodox rabbis and rabbinic associations. As you may know, Mr. Abbas, a Jew is someone born of a Jewish mother or who converts to Judaism according to halakha (mainstream normative Jewish law and tradition). To determine who is a valid convert to Judaism under that halakha and who is not, rabbis the world over look to the Israeli Chief Rabbinate for guidance.
That now may be changing, Mr. Abbas, and we Orthodox rabbis throughout the world may soon find ourselves looking instead to you, to the Arab Muslim Bedouin political party in the Knesset and to your four MKs and to your associates in the Muslim Brotherhood of Egypt for guidance.
You see, Mr. Abbas, Israel’s Minister of Religious Affairs Matan Kahana, spurred on by anti-religious MKs like Minister Avigdor Liberman and Yulia Malinovsky, who grew up under godless Communism, are proceeding forward with legislation to seize the religious authority on Jewish conversion away from the Chief Rabbinate and to arrogate that power for themselves in the Knesset. But they do not have a 61-vote Knesset majority to pass their legislation without you. They need your Arab Muslim party’s four precious tie-breaking votes to change Jewish religious practice and to turn conversion from a matter in theological hands to one legislated by politicians.
How will you and the rest of Ra’am vote, Mr. Abbas? I hope you will vote against the protocol changes in how we define and conduct conversions to Judaism. I will explain why, and perhaps you will agree:
1. There presently is unified consensus throughout the Orthodox Jewish world that conversions to our religion are under the aegis of protocols adopted by Israel’s Chief Rabbinate. If that authority is seized by the secular Knesset, the following rabbinic associations are publicly on record that they will not ever recognize “conversions to Judaism” that lack Chief Rabbinate certification:
a. Agudath Israel of America
b. Igud Harabbonim – Rabbinical Alliance of America
c. Conference of European Rabbis (CER)
d. Rabbi Mordechai Willig, Av Bet Din (Conversion Court Primary Rabbinical Authority, Beth Din of America National Conversion Court of the Rabbinical Council of America)
e. Rabbi Yona Reiss (Av Bet Din, Conversion Court Primary Rabbinical Authority, Chicago Rabbinical Council — Chicago Regional Conversion Court of RCA)
f. Rav Avrohom Union (Conversion Court Dayan and Director-General, Rabbinical Council of California — California and West Coast U.S.A. Regional Conversion Court of RCA)
g. Rabbi Warren Goldstein, Chief Rabbi of South Africa
h. Scores of pulpit rabbis serving synagogues in the National Council of Young Israel
i. Scores of pulpit rabbis serving synagogues in the Orthodox Union
In all, thousands — literally, thousands — of practicing pulpit and organizational rabbinic authorities. Thus, the vast majority of bona fide, normative, mainstream, authoritative Orthodox rabbis in North America, South America, Europe, Africa, and Asia are on record formally declaring that they will not recognize the validity of any conversion to Judaism that the Kahana-Liberman-Malinovsky protocols establish in the Knesset if not certified by the Chief Rabbinate of Israel.
(We have not yet heard from any rabbis in the North Pole or South Pole. Those who divide their time between both poles perhaps are bi-polar. Those who live in only one pole perhaps are poles apart from those living in the other. However, we do know that the non-Orthodox denomination that calls themselves “Open Orthodox” support the anti-Chief Rabbinate proposed changes because their founder and leader even supports validating conversions conducted by “reform rabbis.” And we know that the Director-General of Matan Kahana’s office is listed proudly by the Chovevei Torah Open Orthodox seminary as an alumnus.)
2. I do recognize that it is in the interest of Ra’am and the Muslim Brotherhood to see a world-wide rift in the Jewish people. I do realize how tempting, therefore, it may be for you and the Muslim Brotherhood to support the Kahana-Liberman-Malinovsky effort to degrade the Chief Rabbinate and to move theology into the Knesset. However, please consider, Mr Abbas, these additional thoughts:
3. If the Knesset today can seize religious authority from the recognized religious institution for conversion to Judaism, then it has precedent for seizing Islamic religious authority from recognized Muslim religious clergy in the future. If it happens now with Judaism, you know that someday it will be done to Islam on the basis of parity. The Knesset already has declared Israel a Jewish country, with Hebrew its official language. Don’t doubt that, if the Kahana-Liberman-Malinovsky bill passes, some day it will reach into regulating Islam.
4. The proposed bill will make it easier for non-Jews to convert to Judaism. Inasmuch as nearly 75 percent of the country are Jews and some 20 percent are Muslims, it is quite obvious that the bill will make it easier for Arab Muslims in Israel to convert to Judaism. Do you want that, Mr. Abbas? Do the nice people of the Muslim Brotherhood want that? After all the success you now have achived to get more than 100,000 illegally built Bedouin Muslim homes connected to electricity and phones, do you want them now to find it easier to convert to Judaism?
5. Do you also want it to be easier for those who want to live in economically thriving Israel to call themselves Jews, convert more easily, and immigrate to Israel using the Law of Return?
6. Your party is a religious party. Your party stands for tradition and has braved withering criticism for being against normalizing homosexuality. You are traditionalists. For you life is about asking “What would Muhammad do?” Would Muhammad vote to make it easier for Muslims to become Jews? Would Muhammad vote to weaken theological institutions, even of Dhimmis like us, if it would strengthen the godless and brazen disciples of Marx and Lenin who grew up in Russia and Ukraine under Soviet atheist communism, unaware that they are exactly the kinds of Jews that Marx and Lenin wanted them to be?
I know this all is outside your usual bailiwick, Mr. Abbas. Typically, your day begins and ends with strategizing for liuidating the Jewish country of Israel. Because you are clever — hey, would I write you directly like this otherwise? — you know how to speak in Hebrew to tell the Jews of Israel what they want to hear and then to tell your Bedouin Muslim base in Beersheva — in Arabic — not to believe a word of the stuff you tell the Jews in Hebrew. I get it. That’s pretty sharp. Arafat used to do that all the time also. It worked pretty well for him, and you are even more clever. After all, Arafat only got to start intifadas. You actually get the deciding vote in the Knesset on who is a Jew.
Anyway, it looks like it all comes down to your four votes, my friend. I never thought I would be writing so cordial a letter to a Muslim Brotherhood affiliate who is devoted to destroying Israel. But, hey, we all can use as many new friends as we can make. Some day, after all, I may need you or a friend to hook up some rooms to electricity, and you may need me some day to help you get a visa and green card to escape to America when Hamas or friends of the other Abbas (Mahmoud) come looking for you. Or maybe you will need me to guide you through your Ra’am Party Super Bowl betting pool. So we may have the beginnings here of a beautiful relationship.
But first I ask you to please vote against the Kahana-Liberman-Malinovsky bill because the future definition of Judaism and who is Jewish now has been handed into your hands by Prime Minister Naftali Bennett, Minister Matan Kahana, Yamina MKs Nir Orbach, Idit Sillman, New Hope MKs Gideon Saar, Ze’ev Elkin, and other such observant Jews in the Knesset governing coalition. They have conferred on you the tie-breaking votes. Khalas.
Hal ana muhiq am mukhte? هل أنا محق أم مخطئ؟