Amar to Netanyahu: IDF conversion bill must be scrapped

Chief Sephardi Rabbi warns PM that if passing of bill not prevented then he won't consider himself responsible for conversions.

December 1, 2010 05:29
2 minute read.
Chief Sephardic rabbi Shlomo Amar.

rabbi amar torah 311. (photo credit: AP)


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Chief Sephardi Rabbi Shlomo Amar on Tuesday warned Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu that if the latter did not prevent “the passing of the bill to disconnect the conversions conducted in the military from the Chief Rabbinate,” he would consider himself no longer responsible for any matters pertaining to conversions.

Amar, who in his capacity of head of the rabbinic courts is charged with supreme authority over conversions, wrote to Netanyahu that he has learned the premier is firm in his intention to approve the bill penned by Israel Beiteinu MKs David Rotem and Robert Ilatov, which passed the Ministerial Committee for Legislation on Sunday.

Bill to validate army conversions wins government backing
Bill to shift conversion responsibility to IDF rabbi

The chief rabbi reminded Netanyahu of the conversation they had over the weekend and the letter from Sunday, in which he expressed his objection to the bill, which came into being after Amar formed a committee to advise him on accepting the validity of the military conversions by issuing his signature to the final certificates, a duty that had been disregarded in the past years.

“I see in this bill no concern for the soldiers undergoing conversions, rather a clear directive of destroying religion in Israel,” Amar wrote on Tuesday. “This is to inform you, that if this bill passes, I won’t be able to take care of all matters of conversion, and will no longer bear the responsibility for them.”

An internal document from the Ministerial Committee for Legislation revealed by Channel 2 on Tuesday night, however, shows that Rotem and Ilatov’s bill would be preconditioned by its proponents “agreeing to a halachic solution accepted by the same Amar, or a governmental bill on the issue.”

Rotem would only say in reaction that he was not concerned at all, and that Israel Beiteinu would continue to promote conversions, and specifically military ones.

Supporters of the conversion measure could see the bill going the same way as a bill presented last week to reduce female draft-dodging among women falsely claiming to be religious.

That bill, similar to Rotem’s bill, was placed before the Ministerial Committee for Legislation, and won the committee’s – and thus the government’s – nominal support.

Behind the scenes, however, Shas worked hard to make sure that the bill would not advance. When the bill was brought for its preliminary reading last Wednesday, the government withdrew support for the measure, and it was easily defeated on the house floor.

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