Defense Minister Avigdor Lieberman has allocated seventeen million shekel for a preparatory course of Netiv for army conversion candidates as part of the base budget from the Defense Ministry. This will allow for the expansion of so-called conversions in the Israeli army, against which gedolei Yisrael have come out in full severity.
In addition, Lieberman has decided, together with the Chief of Staff Gad Eisencott, that army conversion will be under the auspices of IDF even before soldiers are trained for their various military professions in order to enable a greater number of non-Jewish inductees to join such courses who would be otherwise ineligible because of their religion - and to actually begin military training that much sooner.
"The Netiv conversion course is not only a means of joining the ranks of Judaism," Lieberman said, "but also enables an individual to connect with and feel an undivided member of the Jewish people and feel a genuine and complete bond with the State of Israel. This process will engender increased motivation on the part of soldiers to join this course."
These outspoken words express the dangerous trend through which the State exploits military service as a means of implanting gentiles into the vineyard of Jewry as opposed to a real study of Judaism and conversion which obligates a candidate to accept the yoke of Torah and mitzvos. Lieberman is saying clearly that soldiers will convert for ulterior motives and not because they want to become part of the spiritual mission of the Jewish people.
In the past, Torah leaders have already publicized their vehement protest against army `conversions': "And everyone is aware that these non-Jews have no objective to assume any of the fundamentals of our religion, neither in the actual observance of Shabbos, kashrus and family purity. Everyone knows for sure that these gentiles have no intention to actually assume Judaic practice." Torah leaders issued a directive that marriage registrars decline to register any marriages involving army converts.
A protest letter titled "Daas Torah uMecha'a" issued by HaRav Eliashiv published on Motzei Shabbos of Parshas Noach, 5771, aroused public waves throughout the Jewish world. It determined firm and clear-cut rules regarding those conversions enacted contrary to Halacha and lacking any basis of assuming mitzvah practice, and ordered marriage registrars to inspect and examine every candidate presenting a conversion certificate to verify if he was a halachically certified convert.
Rabbonim and dayonim involved in the aspects of the conversion setup expressed an acerbic protest at the wide breach which the Security Minister is creating in expanding the resolute army conversion process in general and the preparatory conversion course in particular which exposes its students to the philosophies of cults outside of Judaism. In a talk with Yated Ne'eman they said that these self-styled conversion courses are purposely designed to accept into the Jewish fold such goyim who have no intention whatsoever to assume Torah observance as Jews but to merely become Israeli citizens who identify with the State of Israel alone. This represents a total mockery and travesty and a serious breach in the vineyard of our people, especially since the entire conversion setup of Zahal does not even require Jewish practice so that their conversion is totally meaningless.
In a comprehensive study conducted in the past by attorney Shimon Yaakovi who served as the legal advisor for rabbinical adjudication [shiput] through the administration of the rabbinical courts, a shocking fact was revealed that 97.2% of those who went through military conversion programs did not keep any of the mitzvos. This study was backed by a computerized individual examination of all the certificates issued in Israel between 1996-2008.
Moreover, Professor Binyamin Ish Shalom, who established the army Netiv conversion ulpanim to prepare soldiers for their conversions, was quoted as saying, "There is no need whatsoever to press the converts into a corner where they will have to lie, through direct questions regarding their assuming the yoke of Torah and mitzvos. This, in itself, is a provocative question."
Noted veteran rabbonim and dayonim stressed that even the stated estimation of the examination committee which assessed the army conversion process spoke out against the attitude of the Netiv course, noting, "this course has ten out of 170 teachers who are Reform or Conservative Jews. This is a serious problem casting a heavy shadow over the whole conversion process of Zahal, and every effort must be made to abolish this course or not to recognize it as an introduction of army conversion."
In the course of their preparation to conversion, the students are told that they must undergo the technical process of an orthodox conversion since that is what the law specifies, but immediately afterwards, they can embrace any lifestyle they choose, be it Conservative or Reform. "These are devastating and outrageous guidelines and are a direct contradiction of all the fundamental principles of conversion which the Halacha obligates. It constitutes a contemptible attempt to uproot the Halacha as handed down through the ages by allowing total goyim to join the ranks of Hashem's people with a pointed support of the Security Ministry," the rabbonim and dayonim protested in deep pain.
Public figures added that besides the problems in preparing for conversion and the serious halachic problems presented by military conversions, there is also the scandal of utilizing a budget allocated for specific security purposes and siphoning it off to an area totally unconnected to national defense and security. "This indicates that the Security Minister is prepared to do anything to fight against the pure Halacha. And this is exceedingly severe," they said.
Israel Army Headquarters Building