Charedi MKs Walk Out on Reform Speakers

UTJ MK Yisrael Eichler (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
UTJ MK Yisrael Eichler (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

Charedi MKs were defiant in the face of a Reform Movement complaint to the Knesset Ethics Committee on Tuesday concerning the MKs’ practice of walking out of meetings whenever Reform representatives are permitted to speak.

The complaint was filed after United Torah Judaism MKs Rabbi Moshe Gafni, Rabbi Yisrael Eichler and Uri Maklev left a discussion on the contentious issue of Reform and Conservative access to mikvaos, which the UTJ staunchly opposes.

“In the name of the Reform Movement in Israel, we wish to file a complaint against MK’s from the Shas and UTJ parties over the manner in which they repeatedly and brazenly leave Knesset committee discussions whenever a representative from Reform or Conservative Judaism receives permission to speak from the committee head,” wrote Gilad Kariv, a lawyer who serves as the executive director of the Reform Movement in Israel.

In response, Rabbi Eichler told Hamodia in a phone interview on Tuesday night that “if it weren’t so tragic, it would be comic. This is the first time that there’s ever been such a complaint,” and that they, who are merely guests of the Knesset, “cannot dictate” the comings and goings of the members. “There is no law in the world that says we have to listen to their vicious words.”

“The tragedy of it,” he continued, “is that the Reform and Conservative are using every legal means – including the High Court and now the Ethics Committee of the Knesset – to persecute and destroy the Torah community in Eretz Yisrael. They are the enemies of the Jewish people, worse than the umos haolam.”

The Ethics Committee reportedly requested a response from the chareidi MKs, but Rabbi Eichler apparently had not received it. He said, however, that “if the committee asks us to respond, we will do so.”