Jewish Home MKs were up in arms Monday after the High Court issued an injunction against the installation of Rabbi Eyal Karim as the new Chief Rabbi of the IDF – two days before he was to have started the job. MK Moti Yogev said that “this time the court has gone too far,” while MK Betzalel Smotrich said that “something very bad has happened to the High Court.”
The court issued the injunction in response to a last-minute petition by Meretz and reform groups against the appointment. In the petition, the plaintiffs said that “controversial positions and statements” of Rabbi Kariv’s must be clarified before he could be appointed IDF Chief Rabbi. The statements referred to came in the context of shiurim Rabbi Kariv gave in his capacity as head of the activities department of the IDF Rabbinate, and consisted, Meretz charged, of “disparaging remarks” made about certain groups.
Yogev called the decision “a craven surrender to the left by the court, and an illegal interference in the activities of the IDF. This is judicial activism at its worst, and a terrible blow to Israeli democracy, the state, and the IDF and its generals.” Smotrich called the decision “an example of the court’s megalomania, and especially an excellent example of how little the court thinks of the legislative branch. Why would the court think its opinion of Rabbi Karim is more accurate than that of the IDF Chief of Staff, who appointed him to the job?” Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel vowed to fight to enable Rabbi Karim to take up his position, urging him “not to fold and take back anything you have said.”
Meretz head Zehava Gal-on, for her part, expressed satisfaction at the decision, saying that “it is now clear that he will not be able to serve in this position.”