Court Drops Injunction, Rabbi Karim to be Appointed to IDF Post

Rabbi Eyal Qarim attends a State Control committee meeting, in the Israeli parliament, on September 13, 2010. Photo by Lior Mizrahi/Flash90 *** Local Caption *** אלוף משנה אייל קרים הועדה לביקורת המדינה מערך הגיור בצה"ל
Rabbi Eyal Karim. (Lior Mizrahi/Flash90)

Rabbi Eyal Karim will be installed as IDF Chief Rabbi, after the High Court ruled Monday that there was no reason not to do so. The court withdrew its injunction issued last week in response to a petition by Meretz and Reform groups against Rabbi Karim’s appointment to the post.

The court issued the injunction against the appointment of Rabbi Karim 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 Karim’s must be clarified before he could be appointed IDF Chief Rabbi. The statements referred to came in the context of shiurim that Rabbi Karim 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.

Dozens of MKs, public officials and Rabbanim have come to the defense of Rabbi Karim, including no less a personage than Harav Yitzchak Yosef, Chief Sephardic Rabbi of Israel. The case against Rabbi Karim, he said, was “dangerous, and it is my obligation as Chief Rabbi to defend him and the Torah. This petition seeks to do nothing less than censor the Torah, with the kind of censorship that was placed on Jews during the darkest periods of our history.” Many of his supporters urged Rabbi Karim not to back down or apologize for his comments.

Several days ago, however, Rabbi Karim issued a clarification to the court, saying that I “made a mistake when I failed to properly verbalize my answers to complicated questions in a precise manner. I have already apologized for this in writing, and I do so here again.” He stressed that the statements he made were part of a halachic discussion which did not necessarily reflect on current social conditions.

In a statement, the court said that it was satisfied with the statement, and in fact had not even been necessary, as Rabbi Karim had previously issued a clarification of his comments. “But better late than never,” the court said. “The comments made by the defendant after the issuance of our injunction make it clear that his values coincide with those of a Jewish and democratic state.”

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