Tuesday, July 12, 2016
The Israeli military has appointed a controversial new chief rabbi who once appeared to suggest that it was acceptable for soldiers to rape non-Jewish women during war time to improve morale
The promotion of Colonel Eyal Karim to the top religious role in the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) was met with a storm of criticism from women’s groups and female members of Israel’s parliament. The soldier-rabbi made the comments in 2002 after a reader on a religious website asked if a Torah verse meant that it was acceptable for modern soldiers to carry out sexual assaults during war. Rabbi Karim replied that in war time some Jewish laws could be relaxed, for example allowing soldiers to eat non-kosher food to keep up their strength. He also said that “war removes some of the prohibitions on sexual relations” between Jewish men and non-Jewish women “out of understanding for the hardship endured by the warriors”. “Since the success of the whole at war is our goal, the Torah permitted the individual to satisfy the evil urge, under the conditions mentioned, for the purpose of the success of the whole,” he wrote.