Meretz withdraws objection to IDF chief rabbi appointment

In response to the petition, the High Court froze his appointment and demanded that Karim explain and clarify his various rulings, leading to uproar from the rabbinical and religious establishment.

November 27, 2016 18:07
2 minute read.
Eyal Karim

Rabbi Col. Eyal Karim served in the Sayeret Matkal Special Forces Unit. (photo credit: IDF)

The Meretz MKs who petitioned the High Court of Justice against the appointment of Rabbi Eyal Karim as new IDF chief rabbi, said on Sunday that their goal has been achieved following clarifications Karim made on Wednesday, and that they would not insist on further legal action.

Meretz chairwoman and MK Zahava Galon, along with MKs Michal Rozin and Tamar Zandberg, filed their petition asking the High Court to intervene, following the revelation of contentious rulings and responses made by Karim on matters of Jewish law.

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In response to the petition, the High Court froze his appointment and demanded that Karim explain and clarify his various rulings, leading to uproar among the rabbinical and religious establishment.

On Sunday, the Meretz MKs issued a statement, saying that they accepted his explanations as becoming of the IDF chief rabbi, and said therefore, that the goal of their petition had been achieved.

“It is good and important that the petition brought [Karim] to repudiate the dark positions that he has taken in the past and we accept his response to the petition,” they said.

“I hope and believe that the principled statement of the High Court will continue to echo out within the IDF, and the military rabbinate in particular, and we will not insist on continuing the [legal] process,” added Galon.

She said it was “a shame” that only a High Court petition had succeeded in obtaining a public clarification.

Karim was summoned by IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkott for clarification when his past comments came to light in July. Eisenkott reaffirmed the appointment after a meeting between the two, saying however, that he disagreed with the way the rabbi had phrased some of his responses.

The religious and rabbinical establishment was outraged by the court’s intervention, and Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef asked to be named as a co-respondent alongside the incoming IDF chief rabbi.

The comments that most concerned the court had been those he made explaining a passage from the Bible that permits the taking of female captives in certain circumstances, and comments he made about homosexuals.

Karim was accused of having said that it was permitted for soldiers to rape women in wartime, something that he strenuously denied in his response to the petition.

“I never said, I never wrote, and I never thought that it is permitted for an IDF soldier to rape women during a war,” the rabbi declared, saying such action was totally forbidden.

In other another controversial response, Karim compared homosexuals to ill or disabled people, and said that they should fight against their sexual orientation.

In his declaration to the court, Karim said that he had been trying to express “the obligation to love, support and help” gay people, but that he now sees how that reference and approach was illegitimate.

He also said that he now rejects the idea of homosexuals fighting their sexual orientation.

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