The news from Israel continues focus on the attempts of the Netanyahu government to develop a coherent foreign policy. The government has been desperate to try to decouple the question of the Iranian problem and the Palestinian problem. Netanyahu was clearly unsuccessful in doing that in his recent Washington visit. Netanyahu seems to be trying to clear the political ground for the removal of the illegal settlements (those built without government approval on private Palestinian lands). Yesterday in a closed door meeting of the Likud Central Committee, Netanyahu is said to have stated that with the existential threat of Iran lurking, Israel did not have the luxury of standing on principal, by refusing to remove an illegal settlement. His statement was met with consternation, yet with silence in the Likud. Netanyahu will have a hard time getting approval in the Likud for such a move, since all the moderate Likud members left when Kadima was formed. It is hard to see what type of effective forieng policy the government could develop.
The government's parliamentary committee approved fast tracking a bill for parliamentary approval that would outlaw Arab Israelis from mourning the "Nakba day", which is the day of Israel’s Independence. After an outcry, the government decided to re-examine the issue. If this was not serious, it would be very funny. Even worse, the Likud MK who introduced the law seemed genuinely mystified that anyone who is Zionist could object to such a law.
Justice Minister Yuval Ne'eman said at a conference today on conversion, that Israel’s crisis with conversions was more dangerous than the Iranian threat. According to Ne'eman there are 300,000 immigrants from the former Soviet Union who are awaiting conversion. He suggested convening special courts made up of former military rabbis to address the issue. Unfortunately, this misses the crux of the problem. The Haredim control the Rabbinate. They are not interested in speeding up the conversion process, since they do not want any of these converts to be Jews. As long as the Haredim control the conversion process there will be no solution.
I just posted a review of a very interesting book "The Islamist". The book chronicles the journey of a British born Muslim who becomes a fundamentalist and then realizes he does not share the beliefs of radical Muslims.