JERUSALEM (Nov. 21)
The Israeli army has condemned an officer for telling an audience of soldiers that Judaism’s Conservative and Reform streams have been more harmful to the Jews than the Nazis.
“The expressions of the officer toward Reform and Conservative Jews have no place in an army address,” the army said in a statement.
Lt. Gamliel Peretz, who now faces a formal army investigation, was quoted as telling a group of soldiers he did not consider people affiliated with the Reform and Conservative movements Jewish, and that the two movements “led to the assimilation of 8 million Jews, which is worse than the Holocaust.”
Peretz made the remarks last week during a lecture on the status of women in the Torah and in Judaism before a group of about 60 soldiers.
When two soldiers affiliated with the Conservative movement objected to the officer’s statements, Peretz reportedly said he could express his opinions, especially if they are rooted in fact.
Peretz’s remarks drew calls for his immediate removal from any command positions.
Among those condemning the statements were Education Minister Yossi Sarid, a member of the Meretz Party.
Rabbi Ehud Bandel, the president of the Masorti movement, as the Conservative stream is known in Israel, accused Peretz of slander, adding that he had breached his authority and abused his position.
Rabbi Moti Rotem, chairman of the Reform’s Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism, said any future discussions for soldiers on issues related to Judaism should reflect the perspectives of all the religious streams.