Col. Eyal Karim, who was appointed to the post of Chief Rabbi of the Israel Defense Forces on Monday, served as an adviser for readers of the religious website Kipa while still a civilian.
Responses he gave in 2003 to questions about rape in wartime and whether women should serve in the IDF have been at the forefront of the criticism of his appointment from Knesset members and women's groups.
Below is a sample of some of the other advice he gave on subjects ranging from terrorism to homosexuality.
Asked, for example, whether terrorists should be shown pity, he responded: "Terrorists shouldn't be treated as humans because they're 'animals.' The rule that those who are merciful to the cruel will ultimately be cruel to the merciful applies to them."
Asked whether it is permitted to treat terrorists "before they explode" (based on the argument that some inject themselves with the AIDS virus,) Karim replied: "Suicide terrorists who have been injured should be killed."
The IDF Spokesperson declined to respond to Karim's statements or the question of whether they were in keeping with IDF orders regarding behavior toward terrorists.
Responding to a question regarding the appropriate response to terrorism, Karim said that the responsibility for responding is in the hands of the security forces alone. "No person has the right or permission to take the law into his own hands, even if the security forces don't respond with maximum force."
"The IDF, the Israel Police, the Border Police, the Shin Bet and the Mossad are the only ones responsible for the security of the State of Israel, and they are the only ones with the responsibility of taking revenge against the enemy.
"They do the best they can, but sometimes they are prevented by the government from responding with full force. But, even then, there is no permit and no legitimacy for any Jew to take the law into his own hands"
Regarding homosexuality, Karim said: "Leaving aside the halachik principle, our opposition is not to any specific person who has homo tendencies. The way we respond to the individual is like a person who is sick or disabled. It is a mitzvah to love him, support him, and help save him from his predicament with a lot of sensitivity and patience."
Asked why the Haredi community is opposed to homosexuals and lesbians, Karim said that "it's not the Haredim who are opposed, but the Torah – which orders humans to live according to nature, as God created, and 'cleave to his wife and become one flesh.' The relationships that you mentioned are the opposite of nature and destroy nature."
"Homosexuals and lesbians remain that way, even if they repress their tendencies for one reason or another, only if they choose to remain like that. But man has free choice to live according to nature, as I described."
Two questions posed to the rabbi dealt with how to relate to the New Testament. One reader asked whether the book should be burned, hidden or thrown in the trash, and whether it’s forbidden to read it.
Karim responded, “The Rambam writes, ‘A Torah scroll written by a heretic shall be burned, with all the cruelty that is in it.’ I hope that answer suffices.”
This response prompted another reader to challenge him. “A Jew must respect all of humanity and act justly, so how is it possible to destroy a book, even if for us," the reader wrote. "It isn’t holy at all?”
“Certainly a Jew must honor all of humanity and act with justice and mercy, and therefore, it’s not just the New Testament that must be burned, but even a Torah scroll written by a heretic, because the traits of justice and mercy demand that we eradicate idol worship from the world, so that the world will be better,” Karim responded.
Yet as the IDF’s chief rabbi, Karim would be responsible for providing religious services to all IDF soldiers, including Christians.
One person asked about "Hebrew work" (work for Jews only) and for Karim's opinion on Druze and Bedouin who serve in the IDF.
"It is not racism to support, incentivize and promote 'Hebrew work,'" Karim said. "The Druze and Bedouin who serve our nation faithfully also have a place, but as the sages taught us 'your lives first.'"
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