IDF chief rabbi nominee says he never believed rape during wartime is acceptable

Marcy Oster

JERUSALEM (JTA) — The nominee for chief rabbi of the Israel Defense Forces said in a deposition that he never believed rape during wartime is acceptable.

Rabbi Col. Eyal Karim submitted a deposition on Wednesday to the Supreme Court, which had suspended his appointment and ordered him to clarify comments he had made a decade earlier that appeared to justify wartime rape.

Karim’s induction ceremony had been scheduled for Wednesday, but it was postponed pending the court’s response to his deposition.

“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 said. “This was my perspective and is my perspective today.”

Karim was named IDF chief rabbi in July. He reportedly has been training under the current IDF chief rabbi since he was nominated.

His appointment was called into question over comments published over a decade ago on the religious news website Kipa. Responding to a readers’s question, Karim said that the Torah permits intercourse with a non-Jewish woman during wartime under certain conditions.

In 2012, Karim clarified his position, saying that “obviously the Torah never permitted the rape of women.” The Jerusalem Post reported Karim as saying that the biblical verse in Deuteronomy about female captives during wartime was meant to prevent such rape from occurring.

In his deposition, Karim said that his mistake in answering the question was in glossing over a complex subject and not wording his response more precisely. He pointed out that he has previously apologized for his error.

On the Kipa website, Karim had also said women should not be conscripted due to concerns over modesty and that under Jewish law female singers should not perform at military events. He also compared homosexuals to sick or disabled people and said they should fight against their homosexuality.

In his deposition, Karim told the court that he had meant to show that there is an obligation to love and help homosexuals, but understands why it was offensive. Karim said that he now does not believe that gay people should fight their sexual orientation.

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