Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

23 Teves 5771 - December 30, 2010 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network











House Committee Advances IDF 'Conversion' Bill to Constitution Committee

By Yechiel Sever and Eliezer Rauchberger

United Torah Judaism representatives in the Knesset told Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu early this week that advancing the IDF Conversion Law is a blatant violation of the coalition agreement and of clear pledges he made not to advance the law beyond the preliminary reading and not to appear at any committee meetings to discuss the law.

Netanyahu announced on Monday night his intention to bring the law for a discussion and approval ahead of the Budget Law after Yisrael Beiteinu Chairman Avigdor Lieberman said his party would back the budget only if the Conversion Law was advanced.

Knesset Finance Committee Chairman MK Rabbi Moshe Gafni met with the Prime Minister, explaining the ramifications of promoting the law and that it was a total violation of the coalition agreement.

MK Rabbi Uri Maklev added that these moves are indicative of the zigzagging and capitulation to pressure that have marked the Prime Minister's conduct recently. "The coalition partnership is ethical and true to its ideals," he said. "It does not simply grant more power to whoever is more aggressive."

On Tuesday MKs Gafni and Maklev paid a visit to the home of HaRav Yosef Sholom Eliashiv shlita to ask him for guidance, reporting to him on the decision to have the House Committee advance the law, which is intended to give the IDF conversion apparatus a "hechsher" although the "conversion" candidates have not kept a single Shabbos or genuinely accepted mitzvas.

"IDF and similar conversions are not in accordance with halacha since the truth and the reality of the way of life of the converts contradicts the foundations of conversion, which lie in undertaking the yoke of Torah and mitzvas," said Maran. "There is no possibility for conversion that is not in accordance with halacha, which desecrates the Name of Heaven. The converts' desire to be citizens of the state cannot make them halachically Jewish."

The Vaad HaRabbonim Haolami LeInyonei Giyur founded by HaRav Chaim Kreiswirth zt"l said that research has found that almost all of the "converts" processed in the Army and at least 70 percent of those performed by the Conversion Authority never had any intent to accept Torah and mitzvos as required for a valid conversion. Since the facts show that all of the official conversion apparatus in Israel, including the institutions under the Chief Rabbinate, have failed, the Vaad said that they should be closed down. A new system should be set up of permanent courts composed of talmidei chachomim who are yirei shomayim who would convert the several dozen genuine converts a year.

Following an unusually clamorous meeting and despite fierce opposition by chareidi party representatives, the House Committee on Tuesday advanced the IDF Conversion Law and sent it to the Constitutional Committee, which is chaired by the bill's sponsor, MK David Rotem (Yisrael Beiteinu).

Following the meeting Rotem announced intentions to gain final approval for the law as quickly as possible.

Knesset Finance Committee Chairman MK Rabbi Moshe Gafni issued irate statements following the decision, saying the move stands in stark contradiction to coalition agreements. In reaction he canceled Tuesday's Finance Committee meeting on linking the value of company car perks to the consumer price index and a discussion on the clothing budget for ministers, and is refusing to place on the agenda a proposal to raise royalties for communications companies.

Rabbi Gafni, who felt betrayed by the government and the coalition's conduct, said he is "not willing to let the government make a fool of him. I'm not willing to pass all kinds of things that are against my conscience and that I am opposed to. As a loyal member of the coalition and a committee chairman, I do my job, only to get slapped in the face and treated in such a way that is unworthy of loyal partners."


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