3 lawmakers lift objections over nominee for Israeli army’s chief rabbi


JERUSALEM (JTA) — Three Meretz lawmakers have withdrawn their objection to the appointment of Rabbi Col. Eyal Karim as chief rabbi of the Israel Defense Forces over controversial statements published more than a decade ago.

The lawmakers from the left-wing party had filed a petition with the Supreme Court questioning the appointment, and 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, Zehava Galon, Michal Rozin and Tamar Zandberg thanked Karim for “the clear words that were written and for the important ethical message for the male and female IDF soldiers.”

“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.

Karim was named IDF chief rabbi in July and reportedly has been training 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.

The Supreme Court reportedly cancelled the freeze on Karim’s appointment on Monday. He will be sworn in on Thursday, Ynet reported.

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 that 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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