yishai press conference_311.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Interior Minister Eli Yishai on Monday night defended those “who in their
attempt to safeguard the Torah are perceived as racists,” in what may have been
a veiled reference to the recent statement signed by city rabbis that Halacha
prohibits renting or selling land in Israel to non- Jews.
At the opening
panel of the 20th International Conference on the Laws of the Torah – taking
place in Jerusalem and dedicated to promoting the reinstatement of Jewish
jurisprudence on monetary issues as part of the general legal system – Yishai
spoke of the recent “attacks against the haredi population, against anything
pertaining to sanctity, to tradition.”
Such attacks, he said, tend to be
worse when the Right is in power.
“There are attempts to distort the
reality. What has safeguarded the Jews [in thousands of years of exile and
persecution] is the Torah. If someone attempts to uphold the Torah, he is
perceived as a racist, a cruel person with no compassion,” he
Yishai might also have been referring to criticism leveled at him
over his conduct with foreign workers and their children.
“Our mission is
to spread the word of Torah, alongside the incitement against it.
is a great thirst in the public for it, the Torah with ‘all its paths pleasant
and harmonious,’” Yishai added, quoting from Proverbs.
Yishai, Minister in the Prime Minister’s Office Meshulam Nahari, also of Shas,
addressed the clash with Israel Beiteinu, which wants to give the IDF conversion
system independence from the Chief Rabbinate.
“We are currently facing a
problem we never dreamed of encountering, to safeguard the status of the Chief
Rabbinate, which is being eroded in these days by people who represent us in the
world and are saying that the rabbinate shouldn’t have a monopoly over
conversions,” he said of Foreign Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who expressed that
sentiment on Sunday.
“It starts with conversions, but can spread to
marriage, divorce, kashrut,” Nahari continued.
“The Chief Rabbinate is a
unifying factor in Israel. We must maintain its status and fortify it through
Chief Ashkenazi Rabbi Yona Metzger addressed the topic of
the conference and called for the formation of a system of rabbinic courts
dealing primarily with monetary issues, but also aiding with other halachic
issues, that would initially serve as a pilot in five large cities alongside
“Non-religious people will also be able to use the
rabbinic judges’ services as arbitrators, and the load on the general courts
could diminish, to the benefit of us all,” he said.