Gal-On hopes to have a Reform rabbi on its list

Shas MK: If Meretz puts pope on list, they wouldn't do any more damage than they are doing already.

Gal-On 224.88 (photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
Gal-On 224.88
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski [file])
Meretz will field a Reform rabbi on its next Knesset slate if MK Zehava Gal-On is elected to head the party in its March 18 leadership race, Gal-On said Wednesday in an interview with The Jerusalem Post. She said Israel has been discriminating against Reform and Conservative Jews for too long, and electing a Reform rabbi to the Knesset could be a way to repair the situation. Under her leadership, Gal-On said, Meretz would fight against religious coercion, but not in an anti-religious way like the defunct Shinui Party. "If Israel wants to be a civilized country," she said, "the time has come to recognize all the streams in Judaism." "I am tired of seeing the same tired faces in the Knesset for 20 years," she added. Gal-On, who described herself as a complete atheist, said she intends to emphasize civil issues in her campaign, to distinguish herself from the other two Meretz leadership candidates, socioeconomically-minded MK Ran Cohen and MK Haim Oron, who has said he would continue outgoing chairman Yossi Beilin's emphasis on diplomatic issues. "We have to separate ourselves from Labor and Kadima, because if we look and sound like them, we will have no reason to exist," Gal-On said. She said she would be interested in becoming interior minister if Meretz joined the next government, and would use the post to make immigration laws the same as in other countries. Gal-On said she would grant residency rights to Darfur refugees and allow family reunification between Israeli Arabs and Palestinians. Under her leadership, she said, Meretz would return to its former status as the "enfant terrible" of Israeli politics. Gal-On, who opposed the Second Lebanon War from day one, said that to win new, young voters, Meretz must not be afraid of taking stances that are not in the consensus. "Meretz stopped being chic and trendy," she said. "Voters are looking for a party that is courageous. If they want a party in the consensus, they could vote for Labor." United Torah Judaism MK Avraham Ravitz said having a Reform rabbi in the Knesset would be "almost as problematic as having someone who doesn't believe in God, like Gal-On, as an MK... Oron can take a Conservative rabbi and Cohen can find a Hindu priest, and they all can go meditate together," he joked. Shas MK Nissim Ze'ev said he wouldn't count a Reform rabbi MK if he came to Shas's minyan, but said he doesn't count Gal-On either. "They can put the pope on their list and they wouldn't do any more damage than they are doing already," Ze'ev said of Meretz. National Union MK Zvi Hendel said it was extremely unlikely that Gal-On would win the Meretz race, and even more unlikely that the party under her leadership would pass the electoral threshold, so "the only thing her declarations in the newspapers are good for is for wrapping fish."