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
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
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