Israeli Court Clears Appointment of Controversial Military Chief Rabbi

Col. Eyal Krim will assume his new post on Thursday after court approves Meretz lawmakers' decision to withdraw petition against his appointment.

Gili Cohen
Gili Cohen
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IDF Chief Rabbi Eyal Krim on July 13, 2016 (prior to appointment).
IDF chief rabbi-designate Col. Eyal Krim, on July 13, 2016 (prior to appointment).Credit: IDF Spokesman's Office / Reuters
Gili Cohen
Gili Cohen

The High Court of Justice decided on Monday to allow the appointment of Col. Eyal Krim as the new IDF chief rabbi. He will take up his new post and be promoted to brigadier general on Thursday.

After Meretz lawmakers submitted a petition against Krim's appointment last week, the court issued an injunction delaying it and ordered him to file a written affidavit to clarify his positions in light of reports of controversial remarks he made in the past about women, non-Jews and homosexuals.

In response, Krim provided a written clarification to the court, after which the Meretz lawmakers informed the court that they were withdrawing their petition. The Meretz MKs said they were grateful for the clear statements Krim wrote "and the important moral message for all IDF soldiers, men and women," and said their petition had met its goals. On Monday the court gave its approval of the petition withdrawal.

"The clear statements of [Krim] in his affidavit ... are in accordance with the values of Israel as a Jewish and democratic nation," said Supreme Court president Miriam Naor in the ruling on Monday.

Last week the State Prosecutor's Office filed Krim's affidavit on the accusations with his response to the High Court. Krim commented on the various accusations leveled against him by the petitioners. As to the claims he had permitted rape by IDF soldiers during wartime, he wrote: "I have never said, written and not even thought that it is permitted for IDF soldiers to rape women during wartime."

As to his approach to gays and the LGBT community in general, Krim wrote in his affidavit that his view was to relate in an equal and respectful manner to the community, in the same way as for any person, whoever they are.

Naor said that there is no longer any point in continuing the discussion of the petition in light of what Krim wrote in his detailed affidavit. "It is a shame that the clear words of the respondent in his affidavit did not receive expression earlier, among the various documents attached to the [defense] brief," said Naor. These matters, including the description of the conversation held between IDF Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. Gadi Eisenkot and Krim, or in the form of an affidavit filed before the previous court hearing and the issuing of its interim order, should have been filed earlier, but better late than never, she said.

Krim has been criticized for things he had supposedly said over a decade ago when he was a civilian about the treatment of women captured during wartime, the participation of women in the draft and on his attitude to gays.

Krim was also accused of having written in the past on the Kipa website that it is permitted to kill wounded suicide bombers, that women are not allowed to testify in court because their “sentimental” nature does not allow it, and that the approach to gays should be similar to that of a “sick or handicapped” person. He also reportedly said the New Testament should be burned.

Lawyers representing the MKs said the petitioners "hoped the clear moral statements of the court will continue to echo in the IDF and in the IDF rabbinate in particular The petition met its goals. In these circumstances, the petitioners will not insist on the continuation of the [legal] process."

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