Objections lifted to nominee for chief rabbi of the Israel Defense Forces

Marcy Oster

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Three members of the left-wing Meretz Party have withdrawn their objection to the appointment of Rabbi Col. Eyal Karim for chief rabbi of the Israel Defense Forces.

Zehava Galon, Michal Rozin and Tamar Zandberg had filed a petition with the Supreme Court questioning Karim’s appointment over controversial statements published over a decade ago.

The court froze Karim’s induction pending his filing of a deposition clarifying his position on the topics addressed in his writings.

In a statement issued Sunday the Meretz lawmakers thanked Karim for “the clear words that were written and for the important ethical message for the male and female IDF soldiers.”

The Rep - advertisement

“It is good and important that the petition brought [Karim] to repudiate the dark positions that he has taken in the past and we accept his response to the petition,” they also wrote in the statement.

Karim was named IDF chief rabbi in July. He reportedly has been training under the current IDF chief rabbi since he was nominated. His induction ceremony had been scheduled for Nov. 23, but it was postponed pending the court’s response to his deposition.

His appointment was called into question over comments published over a decade ago on the religious news website Kipa. Responding to a reader’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.