Israel using DNA test to screen for ‘Jewishness’ before marriage permitted

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu meeting with selected Chief Rabbis at the Prime Minister’s office in Tel Aviv. (photo: Amos Ben Gershom / GPO)
The current discrimination against Israeli Jews from former Soviet states comes at a time when Israel’s discrimination against both African Jews and its Arab citizens is becoming more well-known internationally.

By Whitney Webb | Mint Press News | Mar 13, 2019

With the apartheid-style discrimination against Arabs out in the open, it is hardly surprising that the ideology of a state for the ‘Jewish race’ has resulted in discrimination against certain groups within Israeli Jewry. Such is the nature of ethnic-supremacy movements, which invariably seek to push demographics toward an ideal.

Israel’s Chief Rabbi, David Lau, has openly admitted to the use of DNA tests to determine a person’s “Jewish ancestry” before allowing them to marry in Israel and be granted Jewish status. The practice, as so far revealed, has only been used on Jews from states that once comprised the Soviet Union, leading to accusations of discrimination and racism from prominent Israeli politicians, including former Israeli Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman.

The practice was first made public in a report from religious service NGO ITIM that was published last week. The report detailed the accounts of around 20 Jewish couples who had been asked to undergo the procedure to determine whether one or both spouses were “genetically Jewish,” which is a condition of Jewish marriage registration that only the Chief Rabbinate can grant, given its control over Jewish religious rites in the country. Those who do not obtain the Rabbinate’s approval are unable to marry, as the Rabbinate, which is a part of Israel’s government, has exclusive control over religious marriages and only religious marriages are recognized by the state of Israel. . . .

A subsequent investigation by Ynet News, published on Monday, confirmed ITIM’s claims but suggested that Lau’s assurances of such tests being voluntary and used only in isolated instances were inaccurate. Several testimonials in Ynet’s report assert that those seeking marriages, as well as their relatives, were told to submit to DNA testing or have their marriage requests denied. In one case, DNA testing was required of a woman, her mother, and her aunt to ensure that the woman’s mother had not been adopted and was “genetically Jewish.” In another instance, a man was put on a “delayed marriage” list after refusing to consent to the DNA test.

A follow-up report from the Jerusalem Post noted that “more than 700,000 Jewish Israeli citizens from the former Soviet Union routinely have their Jewish status challenged when seeking religious services through the Chief Rabbinate and the Rabbinical Courts,” suggesting that the DNA tests targeting this segment of Israel’s Jewish population are part of a pattern of discrimination. Currently, about 1 million out of Israel’s total population of 8 million Jews are from former Soviet states.

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