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Friday 18 January 2008

Gal-On hopes to have a Reform rabbi on its list

Gal-On hopes to have a Reform rabbi on its list
Meretz will field a Reform rabbi on its next Knesset slate if MK Zehava
Gal-On is elected to head the party in its March 18 leadership race,
Gal-On said Wednesday in an interview with The Jerusalem Post.
She said Israel has been discriminating against Reform and Conservative
Jews for too long, and electing a Reform rabbi to the Knesset could be a
way to repair the situation.
Under her leadership, Gal-On said, Meretz would fight against religious
coercion, but not in an anti-religious way like the defunct Shinui Party.
"If Israel wants to be a civilized country," she said, "the time has
come to recognize all the streams in Judaism."
"I am tired of seeing the same tired faces in the Knesset for 20 years,"
she added.
Gal-On, who described herself as a complete atheist, said she intends to
emphasize civil issues in her campaign, to distinguish herself from the
other two Meretz leadership candidates, socioeconomically-minded MK Ran
Cohen and MK Haim Oron, who has said he would continue outgoing chairman
Yossi Beilin's emphasis on diplomatic issues.
"We have to separate ourselves from Labor and Kadima, because if we look
and sound like them, we will have no reason to exist," Gal-On said.
She said she would be interested in becoming interior minister if Meretz
joined the next government, and would use the post to make immigration
laws the same as in other countries. Gal-On said she would grant
residency rights to Darfur refugees and allow family reunification
between Israeli Arabs and Palestinians.
Under her leadership, she said, Meretz would return to its former status
as the "enfant terrible" of Israeli politics.
Gal-On, who opposed the Second Lebanon War from day one, said that to
win new, young voters, Meretz must not be afraid of taking stances that
are not in the consensus.
"Meretz stopped being chic and trendy," she said. "Voters are looking
for a party that is courageous. If they want a party in the consensus,
they could vote for Labor."
United Torah Judaism MK Avraham Ravitz said having a Reform rabbi in the
Knesset would be "almost as problematic as having someone who doesn't
believe in God, like Gal-On, as an MK... Oron can take a Conservative
rabbi and Cohen can find a Hindu priest, and they all can go meditate
together," he joked.
Shas MK Nissim Ze'ev said he wouldn't count a Reform rabbi MK if he came
to Shas's minyan, but said he doesn't count Gal-On either. "They can put
the pope on their list and they wouldn't do any more damage than they
are doing already," Ze'ev said of Meretz.
National Union MK Zvi Hendel said it was extremely unlikely that Gal-On
would win the Meretz race, and even more unlikely that the party under
her leadership would pass the electoral threshold, so "the only thing
her declarations in the newspapers are good for is for wrapping fish."


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