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From this answer, (emphasis added by me)

Whether a Jew can cease being Jewish is a controversial topic. In the eyes of the Israeli state it is possible, but probably requires a religious conversion. This was elaborated on in 1962 when the Polish Jew Oswald Rufeisen, who had converted to Catholicism, sought to immigrate to Israel. The Israeli Supreme Court denied his application, arguing that "no one can regard an apostate as belonging to the Jewish people". Refeisen himself insisted on that he was still a Jew.

I can see that Israel would treat a Jew differently if they converted to another religion. But Jewish Atheism is certainly a thing in the United States and growing,

Overall, about a quarter of U.S. Jewish adults (27%) do not identify with the Jewish religion: They consider themselves to be Jewish ethnically, culturally or by family background and have a Jewish parent or were raised Jewish, but they answer a question about their current religion by describing themselves as atheist, agnostic or “nothing in particular” rather than as Jewish. Among Jewish adults under 30, four-in-ten describe themselves this way. - Pew: Jewish Americans in 2020

Is it likely that a Jew that owns his atheism would be viewed as an apostate by the Israeli Supreme Court, or do they just reject Jews that have converted to Catholicism?

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This answer restricts itself to the question in the body of the text ("Is it likely that a Jew that owns his atheism would be viewed as an apostate by the Israeli Supreme Court, or do they just reject Jews that have converted to Catholicism"), since the title question is distinct and because of its broad framing, would likely be difficult to answer objectively according to the standards of the site. 1

The case that is presented in the question is not the most recent law in Israel regarding the status of converts to Christianity under the Law of Return. As indicated in an article from 2008:

Fifteen years ago, the court rejected a petition by Messianic Jews who demanded to be recognized as Jews so as to automatically receive Israeli citizenship according to the Law of Return. In that landmark case, the court ruled that Messianic Jews had converted, and therefore were no longer Jewish. Since then, the state has refused to grant all requests for citizenship according to the Law of Return by Messianic Jews.

However, as indicated in that paragraph, the later case clarified matters:

According to Amendment 4A (a) to the Law of Return, passed in 1970, "The rights of a Jew under this law... are also vested in a child and a grandchild of a Jew, the spouse of a Jew, the spouse of a child of a Jew and the spouse of a grandchild of a Jew, except for a person who has been a Jew and has voluntarily changed his religion." The law defines a Jew as "a person who was born of a Jewish mother or has become converted to Judaism and who is not a member of another religion." According to Myers, 12 Messianic Jews petitioned the High Court after the Interior Ministry refused to register them as new immigrants in accordance with the Law of Return. Myers said they had received letters stating that they would not receive citizenship because they allegedly engaged in missionary activity. An article published in the Baptist Press after the High Court ruling was handed down maintained that the court had ruled that "the Messianics should receive equal treatment under the Israeli Law of Return, which says that anyone who is born Jewish can immigrate from anywhere in the world to Israel and be granted citizenship automatically." But, as was explained to The Jerusalem Post by a legal assistant to Myers, this is apparently a misunderstanding of the ruling, which determined that the petitioners were entitled to automatic new immigrant status and citizenship precisely because they were not Jews as defined by the Law of Return, but rather because they were the offspring of Jewish fathers.

Although the case is confusing, it appears that this case overrules the previous one on the basis that although converts to Messianic Judaism cannot be said to be Jews under Israeli law, they are certainly children of Jewish fathers. Any Messianic Jew (and by extension, presumably, converts to any kind of Christianity) with a Jewish father (or likely, a Jewish mother_ would qualify under this reasoning. Note that the reasoning used an amendment to the law enacted subsequent to the case mentioned in the question. Now, would this be applied to children of converts to Islam, for instance? That may not be so clear, but I think there is a distinct possibility that it would be, if the evidence of Jewish descent were clear.

This suggests that atheism should not be an obstacle for anyone with at least one definitely Jewish parent. However, let us examine the relevant amendment.

The rights of a Jew under this Law and the rights of an oleh under the Nationality Law, 5712-1952***, as well as the rights of an oleh under any other enactment, are also vested in a child and a grandchild of a Jew, the spouse of a Jew, the spouse of a child of a Jew and the spouse of a grandchild of a Jew, except for a person who has been a Jew and has voluntarily changed his religion.

The children of Messianic Jews were determined to have never been Jews, and thus not excluded. One can presume that a child or grandchild of a Jew, raised in an atheist household, would probably fall under the same criterion.

Finally, what about someone who was previously a practicing Jew, but then openly started "practicing" atheism? That is ambiguous, but I think the phrase "changed his religion" is not likely to be interpreted as including not practicing one's religion, but rather only converting to a different religion. Atheism is not really a religion. Note that the current but soon-to-be-former Prime Minister of Israel, Netanyahu, has generally been characterized as having a more ethnic or cultural definition of Judaism, rather than a religious conception, and since he was in power for a significant time, this conception has shaped Israeli policy. I do not think that an atheist Jew would have been rejected under his administration. Anecdotally, I know of several atheist Jews who did not hide their lack of religious beliefs (though they were not exactly anti-theist activists) who did not have any problems in this regard.

1: Some examples of the ambiguity: Is Israel prejudiced against Jews that are atheist if there exists some prejudice against atheists overall, but less than in Jordan, Malaysia, or the United States of America? Is it prejudiced against atheist Jews if there exists a certain degree of prejudice, but even more atheist Jews are prejudiced against Haredi Jews? How many Israelis have to be prejudiced for Israel as a whole to be prejudiced? Differentiating between prejudice (a biased attitude) and discrimination (a biased behavior), a classic sociological distinction, is also important here.

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  • The part in quotes is exactly what was communicated from the other question The law defines a Jew as "a person who was born of a Jewish mother or has become converted to Judaism and who is not a member of another religion." The part of your answer that I see as relevant is the part after "finally" and that part itself is unfortunately the only part of your answer devoid of case law entirely. Perhaps the case law there isn't developed. Jun 5 at 21:52
  • In the USA, atheism is considered a religion under law (because it's protected under freedom of religion). In the eyes of the law, you do "convert" to it and you're still granted protections with it. I do agree with you though that it doesn't make much sense: but it certainly makes more sense than what Israel is setting out with their definitions. Jun 5 at 21:55
  • So if a Jew converts to Catholicism and then leaves the religion, he's not a non-practicing Jew he's a non-practicing Catholic? And had he have never converted to Catholicism first and having rejected all the same beliefs he would be a non-practicing Jew? Peak absurdity. Jun 5 at 21:57
  • @user157251 - The law about people who are not Jews but nonetheless are of Jewish descent was what was considered in the case about Messianic Jews. The relevance for atheists is clear.
    – Obie 2.0
    Jun 5 at 21:58
  • @user157251 - It seems like you are applying a USA or South African perspective to Israeli law. Perhaps that is part of what is impeding understanding the relevance of parts of my answer.
    – Obie 2.0
    Jun 5 at 22:00

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