(JTA) – A haredi Orthodox Knesset member accused Reform Jews of destroying Judaism, after Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu pledged to address non-Orthodox denominations’ concerns in Israel.
“They’re not Jews because 80 per cent of their kids are assimilators,” United Torah Judaism (UTJ) MK Yisrael Eichler said. “Whoever wants to uproot Jewish law to lead to heresy, to make the God of Israel something amorphous, to make the Torah of Israel into legends, that’s not Judaism. That’s the destruction of Judaism.”
Eichler, also accused America’s Jewish community federations of corruption and of funnelling money to anti-Israel groups.
“I’m talking about the leaders and organizations of the Reform, the federations, the corruption,” Eichler told Israel’s Army Radio Wednesday. “You know that they take money for Israel from innocent Jews and leave 95 per cent of the money in the United States. Where does the money go? To the anti-Israel organizations.”
Eichler said near the beginning of the radio interview that Reform Jews are Jews, but he appeared to walk that back minutes later. Earlier this year, Israeli Religious Services Minister David Azoulay, from the haredi Orthodox Shas party, caused controversy by asserting that Reform Jews are not Jewish.
He called Reform Judaism “something much further from Judaism than Christianity.”
Eichler said Reform groups equate Israel and Iran. He also compared Reform Judaism to the Islamic Movement, an Islamist, anti-Zionist group in Israel.
“Just like the Islamic movement funds everything against Israel, so the Reform organizations that have a lot of money are funding everything against Israel,” he said.
He accused Reform Jews of being behind a range of left wing groups critical of Israel, from the dovish pro-Israel lobby J Street, to a group that monitors Israeli activity at West Bank checkpoints, to the recent European Union initiative to label products produced in Israeli settlements.
“Their deeds are all the time against Israel,” he said. “They portray Israel as Iran. They support all the organizations that incite against everything that is Jewish.”
Speaking to the Jewish Federations of North America General Assembly Tuesday, Netanyahu vowed to work on “strengthening Reform and Conservative communities within Israel.
“As Prime Minister of Israel, I will always ensure that all Jews can feel at home in Israel – Reform Jews, Conservative Jews, Orthodox Jews – all Jews,” he said.
UTJ MK Moshe Gafni, in an interview with the haredi Orthodox news website Kikar Hashabbat, called Netanyahu’s pledge a “severe statement” and also impugned the Reform movement’s commitment to Judaism.
“The most severe is this issue that the Reform Jews are stabbing the holy Torah in the back,” Gafni said. “How can a prime minister of Israel lend a hand to this issue?”