Upholding Standards for Thousands of Years
Yossi Beilin is trying to propose legislation that will change Israel's official policy on who is a Jew. I can't think of a more damaging threat to the unity of the Jewish people than this. We may have had bitter fights among ourselves in the past (and unfortunately in the present) but at least we Jews could agree on who we were. Now he wants to take a page out of the reform movement's book and meddle in this. (The reform movement, when faced with the decreasing numbers of Jews affiliated with their synagogues, proposed to change the halachic standard accepted by all Jews until that time - that Jews were those whose mothers were Jewish - and stretch it to include those whose mothers weren't Jewish but whose fathers were.)
In the article he states "If people see themselves as Jewish, and certainly if one of the parents was Jewish, why should the state define them as not Jewish?"
Well, try this one on for size Yossi. If one of my parents is a doctor, and I see myself as a doctor, then why not define me as a doctor?
What, you say, there are standards to follow? You mean I have to attend medical school and pass my examinations first? Who are you to tell me what standards I have to pass!
Ok, ok, so there are standards. But why can't we change the standards? If I go to, say, a very liberal and open-minded medical school, which throws off the old fashioned labels and cares about what is really important, (like, do you feel like a doctor, have you learned a little medical jargon, and do you have at least one parent who is a doctor) then can I be called a doctor too?
No? You mean some standards are more acceptable than others? Like the ones that have been around for literally thousands of years, and which a good portion of the population see as fundamentally immutable, no matter how "old fashioned" they sound?
People have a right to either be religious or not, that is their choice. But they do not have a right to use a political body such as the Knesset to try and change the standards that a religion holds.