MK Rotem: Shas trying to divide military, civil converts

Israeli Beiteinu slams Shas for "playing with lives of our soldiers," while MK Margi claims Shas recognizes status of IDF conversions.

December 12, 2010 10:54
1 minute read.
David Rotem.

David Rotem 311. (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski )

MK David Rotem (Israel Beiteinu) announced his opposition to the creation of two separated conversion tracks to Judaism in Israel on Sunday during an interview on Army Radio.

"Two types of conversion is not good from a legal standpoint," Rotem said during the interview. "Now they [Shas] are creating a division between civil conversions and army conversions."

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He continued, "I invited those who work on the issue of conversions in the field [to testify before the Knesset]. The IDF conversion are valid and done according to halacha. They [the IDF converts] are Jews."

With two key coalition parties going head-to-head in Sunday’s government meeting over IDF conversions, Israel Beiteinu has threatened that government acquiescence in Shas’s opposition to an Israel Beiteinu- sponsored bill would constitute a violation of their coalition agreement.

The government was expected on Sunday to debate and vote on an appeal by Minister-in-the- Prime-Minister’s-Office Meshulam Nahari (Shas) against the Ministerial Committee for Legislation’s decision to support the bill. Shas believes the bill is a breach of the status quo on affairs pertaining to religion.

Religious Affairs Minister and Shas MK Ya'acov Margi responded on-air to Rotem's criticism of Shas's opposition to a proposed bill to recognize the autonomous and legitimate state of military conversions, effectively detaching them from the supervision of the Chief Rabbinate.

"We have no problem with IDF conversions. There is nothing to check," said Margi during an interview on Army Radio. "We stand with Rabbi Amar's position. He has no problem with the conversions and we will defer to his judgment."

Margi added, "We don't want in Israel a multiplication of [Jewish] sects. One conversion for everyone that is the goal of a legislative compromise."

Rotem responded to Margi's words saying, "this is not acceptable. [Margi's] response is neither A nor B. All IDF soldiers are more important than any deference to any leader." He added,  "You are playing with the lives of soldiers."

Jonah Mandel contributed to this report.

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