Wednesday, March 7, 2012

131 Ha'aretz: U.S. using Goldstone Report to punish Netanyahu

(1) Shlomo Sand: "Jewish people doesn’t exist; don't publish till you've got tenure"
(2) Ha'aretz: U.S. using Goldstone Report to punish Netanyahu
(3) Israeli FM Lieberman protests to Russia over vote for Goldstone at UN
(4) Volvo, through its Merkavim subsidiary, provides armored buses for Israeli settlements
(5) Conversion to Judaism nullified because Convert forgot to take out her Contact Lenses

(1) Shlomo Sand: "Jewish people doesn’t exist; don't publish till you've got tenure"

From: Kristoffer Larsson <kristoffer.larsson@sobernet.nu>  Date: 19.10.2009 07:32 PM

http://mondoweiss.net/2009/10/at-nyu-devilish-shlomo-sand-predicts-the-jewish-past-and-pastes-the-zionists.html
At NYU, devilish Shlomo Sand predicts the Jewish past and pastes the Zionists

by Philip Weiss on Mondoweiss, October 17, 2009

Of all the events I’ve covered surrounding Jewish identity and Israel in the last year, none has given me so much pleasure as the lecture last night by Shlomo Sand at NYU on the Invention of the Jewish People. Most events I go to are grinding, awful, heartrending, often with lamentations and pictures of mutilated children. This one was pure intellectual deviltry of the highest order by a Pavarotti of the lecture hall. And while it was fiercely anti-Zionist and included references to the mutilated children, it left me in just an incredibly elated mood. For I saw real light at the end of the tunnel, and not the horrifying dimness that surrounds almost all other events that deal with Israel politics here -  for instance with the neoconservative Weekly Standard’s disgusting pursuit of J Street.

This pleasure was entirely Shlomo Sand’s achievement. He walked by me going down to the lectern and I noticed his physical vanity at once. He had expensive shoes on, designer jeans or cords, a zipup black jacket and a black shirt under that unbuttoned to the sternum. He is lean and mid-60sish, and behaves like a player. His beard is cut in an interesting manner, he wears designer glasses. I wondered if he dyed his hair. All glorious devil.

Sand has an excitable, self-referential style, and he began the lecture by breaking his guitar. “Jewish history is not my field.” No, but once he had discovered that the story of the connection of the Jewish people to the Holy Land was a myth, he decided that he would secretly explore the history but not publish until he got tenure for doing other work. Because if he published this first, “there would not be any chance of being a full professor. Not only in Tel Aviv. But at NYU too.”

Everyone laughed, but Sand said, “That is not a joke. I must write the book after I see that no one could touch me really.” More devil. Though Sand is right. This is no joke.

Sand studies European history, but Israel has a separate department in every school for Jewish history, and Zionists run these departments. “I have not a right to write about Jewishness.” The Zionist history holds that the Jews have an ancient connection biblically to the land, and were exiled from the Middle East in 70 AD, in what became the Diaspora. The Jews of New York and Warsaw. Sand began to question this story when he saw archaeologists’ work about the early Christian times and also when he saw scientific data. The exile is absurd. The Romans persecuted the Jews. They didn’t exile them.

At this point came the first interruption by a Zionist. A bald man in the third row or so called out, “What about Bar Kochba?” And: the Jews weren’t exiled because they were killed.

Sand seemed to live for this interruption. He walked up to the audience with his eyes gleaming, and congratulated the man for his knowledge of the Bar Kochba revolt of 135 AD, after the Second Temple destruction, and agreed with him, but also dismissed him. Yes many Jews were killed. And for the rest of the lecture Sand would dance toward this man and tease him that he was Jewish - he was - and urge him to buy the book to discover the gaps in his knowledge, or by the end of the lecture, say that he would buy the book for him himself, to improve him. More deviltry.

Back to the exile myth. The expelled diasporic Jews went in a straight line north to Europe, made a right into the land between the Caspian and the Black Seas, Kazaria, and also north to Russia and Poland; and when they got there in the 1800s they made a u-turn and started back to Palestine. The absurdity of the myth is that there were always Jews in the Middle East. The Jews were peasants and mingled with other populations. The Jews were not passive actors. They were at times a majority in the Holy Land and conquerors of the Arabian peninsula before the Arabs, and of North Africa too. For a time, they did not have a bar against proselytization. The Maccabees were the first to undertake forced conversion. In the 8th century the Jews and the Muslim Berbers were likely the invaders of Spain.

Sand offered very little by way of evidence. You will find that in his “boring” book, he said. This was an aria not a chalktalk. The Jews of the Middle East made several kingdoms over the years. One in Yemen, another in Babylon, another in North Africa, where they fought the Arabs. Sand said he loves the curly hair of the Yemenite Jews. More deviltry, with some concupiscence thrown in.

The Ashkenazi Jews of Eastern Europe originated in Kazaria. They were hugely successful and founded a great city, Kiev. We can claim to have founded Kiev, but not Jerusalem, he said. Because the Jews who lived in the Holy Land stayed in the Holy Land. Many of the people we now call Palestinians were originally Jews. The chance that someone who lives in Hebron today and speaks Arabic is a direct descendant of a Jew in ancient times is 1000 times greater than the possibility that I am descended from a Jew, Shlomo Sand declared.

Let’s move on from the mythology to the issue of national identity. Identity is formed by many many associations. “I don’t deny Jewish identity. I’m not fighting against someone’s identity. There is identity of homosexuals. They are not a people. We are composed of a lot of identities.” Two Catholic share a religious identity, but again, that is not a national identity with a tie to land.

Nationalism took root in human political development in the 1800s. The Germans and French began the project by inventing the idea of a German and French people. The French history books declared outright in the first sentence that the Gauls were their ancestors. It was a way to valorize the nation state, which was an essential part of modernity.

What is a people? A people generally shares a way of life, a language, a food, a geography. There is no Jewish language. Shlomo Sand stumbles proudly in English, while of course many of the people in the audience were Jews speaking English. Food the Israelis have - stolen from the Palestinians - and still you must say that there is an Israeli people. But they are not the Jewish people. They are Israeli people, and the Palestinians are Palestinian people. Both made by Zionism.

The Zionist project began inventing the idea of a Jewish people in the 1870s as a reflection of other nationalisms. The Zionists turned to the Bible for the foundational myth. The biblical myths are taught in Israeli schools from before children are taught mathematics and language - taught about the biblical associations of Jews to this land. But the Exodus is a complete myth. “As a historian, I try and predict the past. I’m not a prophet.” And what are the true predictions of the past: at the supposed time of the Exodus, the Egyptians also controlled Canaan. The kingdom of David and Solomon was not a kingdom at all, but a small settlement around Jerusalem.

Sand had run over his 45 minutes. In the Question and Answer period, his passion and intellectual majesty announced themselves. He sought to engage with the Zionists in the crowd, and did so out of moral fervor. When Sand said that Israel was not a democracy, and a Zionist called out, “It is a flawed democracy,” Sand bellowed. No: a democracy is founded on the idea that the people are the sovereign, that the people own the state. That is the first principle of a republic going back to Rousseau. Liberalism and civil rights are not the core. Yes, Israel is a liberal society. It tolerates Shlomo Sand’s heresy, for instance, and puts him on TV. But it is a liberal ethnocracy.

Down the row from me were two Arabs. I recognized the man from other events I have been to. I noticed how fulfilled they were by the talk, how quietly approving, and it was in this connection that we saw Sand’s passion: on behalf of the Palestinians. This part of the lecture brought tears to my eyes, it was so forceful and unapologetic. The idea that Joe Lieberman has a right to move to Israel tomorrow and a Palestinian whose ancestors have lived there for centuries cannot is an outrage, Sand said. But for 50 years the Palestinian Israelis were afraid to speak out.

“They were afraid because of the Nakba. They were afraid because of the military regime. Today this is a generation of young Palestinian Israelis that stop to be afraid. They become more anti-Israel in their politics the more they become Israelis.”

Ravishing fire.

Sand said that Gaza was just an intimation of the violence that might come when the Palestinians declare that they want a genuine democracy, a state of their own citizens in Palestinian-dominated Galilee. These are young Palestinian Israelis who don’t want to be part of the West Bank or of Gaza. They will be like the Kosovars of Serbia, who when the Serbs started to make an ethnic regime of the former Yugoslavia, did not want to be part of Albania, with whom they share religious connections, no they wanted to be their own country. (And got it, by the way, 60 years after the world falsely promised the Palestinians that they could have a state.) “They will build in Galilee a state of their citizens. That will start to be the end of Israel. Israel won’t let Galilee become a state of its citizens. It will be a mass murder, I’m afraid.”

Don’t we want to get past the idea of the nation-state? Of course we do, Sand said, but that is the era we are in. And tell that to the Palestinians. They want a state. Sand is for the two-state solution because the Palestinians ought to get a state after being denied it forever. As soon as the occupation, which has denied these Palestinians any civil or human rights for 42 years - more fire! - is ended, that is the day we throw ourselves into the project of making a confederation of Israel with Palestine and Jordan. The one-state solution is a utopia. “Utopia has to direct politics. Not replace politics. It’s too dangerous.” (Something like Hussein Ibish’s new book in that.)

When Sand spoke to Palestinian professors at Al Quds University, they told him to speak Hebrew, because they had all learned Hebrew in Israeli jails. And he told them that just because Israel had begun with a great crime did not mean that it had not begun. “Even a child that was born from a rape has a right to live. ’48 was a rape. But something happened in history. We have to correct and repair a lot of things.” The next day the Palestinian papers had his rape line in big headlines.

You have not talked about anti-Semitism, or self-hatred, said another Zionist, with a cap on. “I am anti-racist. And an anti-anti-semite,” he said. “But look at me, do you think I hate the Jewish?” More devil eyes flashing. “I don’t hate myself… I hate the Jewish people? But that doesn’t exist. How can I hate something that doesn’t exist?”

More Zionist claptrap from the claque: You say that a Jew can’t marry non-Jews in Israel, but two men can’t marry each other in this country! Sand laughed. Men should be able to marry each other here if they want to, and anyone should be able to marry anyone else in Israel. Why won’t the state recognize such marriages? Not because of the orthodox. No: the secular Jews gave the rabbis the power over marriage when they founded the Jewish state in ’48. They did so because “they were not sure of their identity, and needed religious criteria.”

What do you think of Israel Shahak, whose work says that ethnocentrism and chauvinism are built into the Jewish religion? Sand said that Shahak was a chemist and a man of tremendous moral force, but he didn’t know the material. (I say he’s right about this; all religious doctrines are interlarded with racism.)

Why are you not on Charlie Rose? asked a man with a beard. The man said, I watch Charlie Rose every night and I’m up to here with the Zionism on the show. He held his hand at his neck. Not just the Israelis, the American journalists who imbibe Zionism. Sand didn’t seem to know who Charlie Rose was. He has been on lots of Israeli TV shows. And been 19 weeks on the bestseller list in Israel. “Also in France.”

I thought, Why has Yivo not asked Sand to debate Michael Walzer? Two years back at Yivo/the Center for Jewish History, Walzer declared that the Jews are a people, a people like no other, without national borders. They have maintained a political community for 2000 years without geographical sovereignty, through a religious-legal structure. Interesting ideas. And it would be a fabulous debate. Where are you chickenshit Yivo, when these great ideas are bursting forth from the Jews who hate what Israel is doing to our identity?

I hope I am conveying something of the power of this event, and its incredible optimism and second sight. Sand challenged every Jew in the room to reimagine the future. “Most of the Jews [in the world today] are a product of conversion… I see the shame. And it is a shame. If you are born in the 20th century, and we were all born in the 20th century -  to base your identity on biology.”

I thought as always of the American Jewish project: to end the Israel lobby and to end the myth of Jewish outsiderness. Sand had addressed this too. “The destiny of Israel. And the destiny of the Middle East depnds a lot on you, Americans.” This was a subject for its own lecture. But it was necessary for the Americans now to “save us from ourselves. I’m not joking about this.”

Do you fear for your life? someone asked.

“I’m worried in New York. Not in Tel Aviv. It’s not a joke. Really, I’m not joking.”

(2) Ha'aretz: U.S. using Goldstone Report to punish Netanyahu

From: Henry Norr <henrynorr@gmail.com> Date: 18.10.2009 09:27 AM

http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1121529.html

U.S. Using Goldstone Report to Punish Netanyahu

By Aluf Benn, Haaretz Correspondent

Haaretz (Israel)

Operation Cast Lead in Gaza was perceived in Israel as a shining victory. Rocket fire from Gaza was brought to a halt almost completely. The Israel Defense Forces emerged from its failure during the Second Lebanon War and deployed ground forces with few casualties. "The world" let the operation continue and did not impose a cease-fire. A wonderful war.

Ten months later, it seems the victory was a Pyrrhic one. Israel did not realize that the rules have changed with Barack Obama's election as U.S. president. Prime minister Ehud Olmert timed Cast Lead to take place during the twilight period between the outgoing and incoming U.S. administrations, and rightly assumed that the incumbent, George W. Bush, would fully back Israel. However, in contrast to the Lebanon war of 2006, which ended with a cease-fire, the Gaza campaign continues being fought - in the diplomatic arena and in public opinion - and Israel must cope with its consequences in a less-friendly Obama era.

During the first, military round, Israel benefited from the decisive superiority of its firepower. However the Palestinians moved the war's current round to an arena more comfortable for them, and are benefiting from their advantage in UN institutions and in public opinion. The calls to boycott Israel are getting louder. Turkey is shirking off its strategic alliance with Israel and is presenting IDF soldiers as horrible murderers of children. Hamas is gradually winning recognition as a legitimate player, as it continues to amass a stock of rockets without hindrance. Meanwhile Israel's leaders are busy defending the country against the United Nations' Goldstone report (that accuses Israel and Hamas of perpetrating war crimes), and some even have to worry now about being the object of arrest warrants in Europe.

Hands are tied

Even if the legal process that Goldstone initiated ends up being halted, and Israel is not put in the dock in The Hague, its hands have been tied. The world, led by Obama, will not let it initiate a Cast Lead II operation. Certainly not when a right-wing government is in power in Jerusalem led by Benjamin Netanyahu, whom the world loves to hate. Netanyahu's clumsy attempt, in his Knesset speech this week, to link the war in Gaza to opposition leader Tzipi Livni did not really succeed. He is in power and the world considers him responsible. The Americans and the Europeans are using the Goldstone report to punish Netanyahu for his refusal to freeze the settlements.

The same thing happened to the Palestinians between the two intifadas. When they hurled stones during the first intifada (1987-1993) and the confrontation was in the West Bank and in the Gaza Strip, the world cheered them on and forced Israel to recognize the Palestine Liberation Organization and to let its leader Yasser Arafat establish his autonomy in the territories. The Palestinian violence at that time was perceived as appropriate resistance to occupation. During the second intifada, the Palestinians resorted to suicide attacks in Israeli cities. They succeeded in killing many more Israelis, but they lost in the diplomatic arena, especially after the September 11 attacks in the United States, when the rules changed. The world was fed up with terror attacks and it allowed then-prime minister Ariel Sharon to reoccupy the West Bank, lock Arafat in a cage (his headquarters in Ramallah) and eventually unload Gaza without a peace arrangement.

Operation Cast Lead was the most planned operation in the annals of Israel's wars. Its organizers filled out all the forms and checked off on all the procedural changes that had been recommended by the Winograd Committee after its investigation of the shortcomings of the Second Lebanon War. The campaign's goals were reasonable. The scenarios were rehearsed. The reservists were trained. Jurists anticipated the legality of every target and operational plan. The soldiers were properly outfitted with food, water and protective equipment. The local authorities in the Israeli rear functioned as they should have. The media obeyed. In short, the government and the IDF prepared exceptionally well for a Third Lebanon War. They only forgot that the conditions on the Palestinian front are different than in Lebanon.

Not everybody shared the euphoria. The defense minister, Ehud Barak, wanted to halt Cast Lead after two or three days, but was overruled by Olmert who wanted to keep the campaign going, and then going further. Columnists and commentators warned of Gaza becoming a quagmire.

And most interesting: The Winograd Committee anticipated the lurking legal danger to Israel, and in its final report had warned of "far-reaching consequences" resulting from the widening gap between the rules of warfare and the reality of fighting terror launched from civilian surroundings. The committee recommended pulling the legal experts out of the operation rooms, increasing and highlighting investigation of irregular activities, and working with friendly countries to amend the rules of warfare, a recommendation that is easy to make but difficult to implement. The Winograd report did not warn against going into the next war before the rules of warfare are changed. The legal recommendations, drafted with restraint out of fear they would be used for anti- Israeli propaganda, were lost in the sea of piquant items in the report.

Upon returning to power, Netanyahu hoped to leave the Palestinian issue on the side and focus on the Iranian threat and on economic reforms. Now his government will have to cope with the consequences of Cast Lead and do so under less than ideal conditions, heavy international pressure and fear of arrest warrants and charge sheets.

(3) Israeli FM Lieberman protests to Russia over vote for Goldstone at UN

http://www.haaretz.com/hasen/spages/1121966.html

Lieberman sends strong protest to Russia over vote for Goldstone at UN

By Barak Ravid

Israel relayed a sharply worded protest to the Russian government following Russia's vote in favor of adopting the Goldstone report at the Human Rights Council in Geneva Friday, according to senior Foreign Ministry officials in Jerusalem.

Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman suffered a personal blow by the Russian vote, which went against the promises he received from his Russian counterpart, Sergey Lavrov, days prior to the vote at the United Nations body.

Sources at the Foreign Ministry said that the Russians' behavior was tantamount to a "slap in the face for Lieberman," whose policy has been based on a "strategic dialogue" with Russia.

Notwithstanding his disappointment, Lieberman was careful not to attack the government in Moscow publicly. Other countries who were critical of Israel, such as Sweden, Norway, Turkey and China, were slammed by Lieberman.

However, Lieberman opted to keep a low profile, as he did earlier this year when Lavrov met with senior figures from Hamas. His office also refused to comment on this report.

Following the vote in Geneva Friday, the Russian government sought to appease Israel and Lavrov sent a message to Lieberman clarifying the Russian stance in the vote. However, a source in the Foreign Ministry said that Lieberman refused to accept the Russian's message.

In the end the message was relayed by the Russian ambassador to Israel to the deputy director for Euro-Asian affairs at the Foreign Ministry, Pini Avivi.

During the meeting with the Russian ambassador, Avivi relayed Israel's protest on its vote with regards to the Goldstone report. He said that "you could have joined the group of countries who voted against or abstained," adding that "we were very hurt by your behavior, especially following the assurances you had given us on the matter."

The Russian ambassador said that he had been asked by Lavrov to relay a series of messages regarding the Russian vote. He said that Russia voted in favor because it had no choice, and went as far as to blame the European Union.

"We sought to moderate the wording of the resolution but we failed because of the stance of Western countries," the Russian ambassador claimed.

He also said that even though Russia supported the resolution on the adoption of the Goldstone report, it opposes the transfer of the matter to the Security Council or the commencement of legal action at the International Criminal Court at The Hague. The Russian diplomat added that Moscow believes that "Israel should investigate itself," and reiterated that the most important things is for "the peace process not to be damaged."

The Russian ambassador also charged that the Goldstone report contains statements that "are unsubstantiated and are subjective."

Senior Foreign Ministry officials said that Lieberman had been personally insulted by the Russian vote. Since the release of the Goldstone report a month ago, Lieberman spoke some 10 times with Lavrov and asked that Moscow not support the report.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu also spoke prior to the vote with President Dmitry Medvedev.

Senior Israeli officials said that other Russian figures relayed to Israel positive messages on the issue, and had even made promises on not voting in favor of the report.

(4) Volvo, through its Merkavim subsidiary, provides armored buses for Israeli settlements

From: WVNS <ummyakoub@yahoo.com> Date: 17.10.2009 04:05 PM

Volvo providing armored buses for Israeli settlements

Wednesday, 07 October 2009

Adri Nieuwhof

http://www.therebel.org/business/middle_east/volvo_providing_armored_buses_for_israeli_settlements_2009100766529/

Merkavim's promotional video shows Israeli soldiers boarding an armored bus.

Following reports published by The Electronic Intifada on the use of Volvo equipment in the demolition of Palestinian houses in 2007, the Volvo Group stated that it did not condone the use of its equipment for such purposes. Claiming to have no control over the use of its products, Volvo affirmed that its Code of Conduct decries unethical behavior. In spite of these claims, The Electronic Intifada has found that through its Volvo Buses branch, the Volvo Group is providing armored buses to transport Israeli settlers in the Occupied Palestinian Territories (OPT).

Volvo Buses is co-owner of Merkavim Ltd., an Israeli transport technology company. Another shareholder in the company is Mayer's Cars and Trucks, the exclusive Israeli representative of companies from the Volvo Group. According to Merkavim's website, the company was chosen by Volvo as "its major body builder in the Middle East." However, the Who Profits from the Occupation? project recently reported that Merkavim manufactures an armored version of Volvo's Mars Defender bus for the Israeli public transport company Egged. Egged uses the Mars Defender to provide bus services for illegal settlements in the occupied West Bank.

Merkavim proudly announced on its website that the Mars Defender offers protection and ultimate comfort when traveling through war zones or routes susceptible to terrorist attacks. In a promotional video the armored bus is shown driving along Israel's wall in the West Bank and crossing checkpoints

(http://www.merkavim.co.il/upload/defender.wmv, accessed 6 October). In another video on Merkavim's homepage, Volvo's Senior Vice-President of Business Region Europe, Lars Blom, declares that "Three core values that are very important to us are quality, environmental care and safety. ... [T]he products we are developing with Merkavim also deliver these three core values plus reliability" (http://www.merkavim.co.il/movies_library/merkavim.wmv, accessed 7 October 2009)

According to Merkavim, in the video promoting the bus, the Mars Defender "looks like any other modern bus," but it is "the world's most armored bus." Indeed, the company calls it "the bus that saves lives!" As the narrator explains that the bus is "designed to safeguard the most precious cargo," the camera pans over Israeli soldiers lining up to board the bus and on patrol with their machine guns at the ready. The video explains that Israel has "adapted its world renowned expertise in military and defense technologies to deal with" the "growing threat" of "terrorists and hostile forces." It adds that Merkavim "blends this state of the art know-how with its own expertise" to produce the Mars Defender. Built on a Volvo chassis, the Mars Defender's sides, front, roof and floor are shielded with steel armored panels and it is fitted with bullet- and explosion-proof armored glass windows as well as "run-flat" tires. According to the company, these safety measures allow the bus to withstand "grenades, car bombs, roadside charges and 7.62 caliber armor-piercing bullets." Merkavim claims that these features are needed because "people trust this bus with their lives."

The 2004 advisory opinion of the International Court of Justice on Israel's wall in the West Bank confirmed that settlements violate Article 49 of the Fourth Geneva Convention. Article 49 explicitly states that the Occupying Power is not allowed to deport or transfer parts of its own civilian population into the territory it occupies. Bus services with Volvo subsidiary's Mars Defender armored buses facilitate the maintaining of illegal settlements in the OPT.

In its Code of Conduct, the Volvo Group commits itself to support and respect the protection of human rights and to ensure that it is not complicit in human rights abuses. However, by providing construction and transportation equipment that facilitates Israel's occupation, the company violates this Code of Conduct on a daily basis. With increasing calls for boycott of and divestment from companies that support Israel's occupation, Volvo Group can expect activists around the world to put pressure on responsible investors to divest from the company and to call on public bus companies not to buy Volvo buses.

Adri Nieuwhof is a consultant and human rights advocate based in Switzerland.

(5) Conversion to Judaism nullified because Convert forgot to take out her Contact Lenses

October 16, 2009
Conversions: How Jewish Law Should Not Work

http://failedmessiah.typepad.com/failed_messiahcom/2009/10/conversions-how-jewish-law-should-not-work-678.html

"We found out about a convert with a couple of kids who had forgotten to take out her contact lenses [before immersing in a mikva for her conversion. Therefore] the immersion was not kosher and she and her children [born to her in the years after the conversion] are not Jewish."

All remarks in square brackets [  ] are mine. I also lightly edited the exchange for the sake of clarity, for example by adding a paragraph space between speakers, and changed the English-language spelling of Rabbi Elyashiv's name from Eliashiv to Elyashiv to match the one normally used here.

Rabbi Daniel Eidensohn writes:

    Had an interesting chat with a well known talmid chachom [Torah scholar]. His complaint - Eternal Jewish Family.

    He said he had a conversation with one of the main machers of EJF R' E [this is clearly referring to Rabbi Nachum Eisenstein, the Rabbi of the Ma'alot Dafna section of Jerusalem and haredi leader Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv's point man on conversion issues]. who explained to him what universal [conversion] standards means:

        [Rabbi Eisentein:] "We found out about a convert with a couple of kids who had forgotten to take out her contact lenses [before immersing in a mikva a part of the conversion process]. Since this is a chatzitza [a barrier, something that interferes with the ability of the mikva water to reach every part of the body] the tevila [immersion] was not kosher and she and her children [born to her in the years after the conversion] are not Jewish."

        The talmid chachom replied, "But Rav Moshe Feinstein and Rav [Shmuel HaLaevi] Wosner both say that contact lenses are not a chatziza so she is a valid convert." [Both rabbis are recent preeminent leaders of haredim who were internationally known experts on Jewish law.]

        R' NE [Rabbi Eisentein]: "Where do they say that? I never heard of this before. Besides Rav Elyashiv says it is a chatzitza."

        Talmid chachom: "The fact that Rav Eliashiv is machmir [strict] - doesn't mean that she is not a kosher convert, he is machmir on many things. You don't posul a convert [rule a conversion invalid] because of Rav Elyashiv's view if there are other gedolim [recognized Torah scholars of great stature] who disagree."

In other words, because there are legal opinions from great scholars to rely on, Rabbi Elyashiv's stricter opinion can – and should – be disregarded.

On any issue of Jewish law, one can see gradations of interpretation, usually running the full spectrum from extremely strict to the opposite.

After the fact, rabbis adopt more lenient rulings. An example:

Rabbi X holds that Manufactured Food Product A is not kosher. Other leading rabbis disagree and hold the food product is kosher. A family in Rabbi X's congregation accidentally uses Manufactured Food Product A, serving it hot on the family's heirloom antique china. (China generally cannot be made kosher once it has become non-kosher.)

In that circumstance, Rabbi X will normally rule that, because this happened by mistake, and because there are great rabbis who believe Manufactured Food Product A is kosher, the family's irreplaceable heirloom dishes are still kosher.

But, if the family came to Rabbi X before cooking and asked about that food product and were told the food product is not kosher, but chose to intentionally disregard that and cook and serve it, then the irreplaceable china would (usually) be considered non-kosher.

In our case, rabbis – even the rabbis mentioned above who say contact lenses do not spoil an immersion – want converts to remove contact lenses before immersion in the mikva.

But, if a convert forgot to do so or if the rabbi forgot to tell the convert to do so, the conversion is still valid after the fact.

But on this and so many other issues, Rabbi Elyashiv and his followers disregard the normal functioning of Jewish law. They do so for political reasons, using issues like conversions to attack their rabbinic enemies.

You can read more about that over on Jewcy.com. ==

http://daattorah.blogspot.com/2009/10/r-tropper-universal-conversion-it-my.html

Friday, October 16, 2009
R' Tropper's universal conversion - "Do it my way"

Had an interesting chat with a well known talmid chachom. His complaint - Eternal Jewish Family

He said he had a conversation with one of the main machers of EJF R' E. who explained to him what universal standards means

"We found out about a convert with a couple of kids who had forgotten to take out her contact lenses. Since this is a chatzitza the tevila was not kosher and she and her children are not Jewish." The talmid chachom replied, "But Rav Moshe Feinstein and Rav Wosner both say that contact lenses are not a chatziza so she is a valid convert." R' NE - "where do they say that I never heard of this before. Besides Rav Eliashiv says it is a chatzitza." Talmid chachom, "The fact that Rav Eliashiv is machmir - doesn't mean that she is not a kosher convert, he is machmir on many things. You don't posul a convert because of Rav Eliashiv's view if there are other gedolim who disagree."

I asked him about R' Bomzer, "He is a fine yid. Do you know that there was once a rebellion in his shul and Rav Moshe wrote a letter defending him."

He had other things to say but they are not for publication.

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