Rabbi Arusi Suggests Possible Mass Resignation of Religious MKs

"We must decide at what point must all the religious MKs quit the Knesset." So says Chief Rabbinate Council's Rabbi Dr. Arusi, regarding the High Court's attacks on the religious establishment.

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Hillel Fendel, | updated: 13:50

"My opinions are generally moderate," Rabbi Ratzon Arusi told Arutz-7's Ruti Avraham, "but we have reached a point at which we must set a red line, and say that if the State of Israel crosses it, the entire religious community will resign from the Knesset. This will truly shake the foundations, even of secular society."

Rabbi Arusi is the Chief Rabbi of Kiryat Ono and considered the Chief Rabbi of the Yemenite community in Israel. He also heads an independent monetary court system run according to Jewish Law, and lectures in Talmud at Bar Ilan University.

The rabbi says that of late there have been several instances that are bringing the said "red line" closer. He named the following:

  • The Disengagement Plan - which "passed in the Knesset by a formal majority which merely masked the deception on which it was based."
  • The objections to the Tal Law, which regulates the army exemptions of yeshiva students, but which is still being challenged in the courts and facing public attack. "The secular public doesn't realize that this law deals with a gradual process; they want 'now.' This causes tensions, and could lead to an explosion. Instead of allowing the process to take its course and enable yeshiva students to find their place in society, they push and push, causing the hareidi-religious world's antagonism to increase."
  • The collapse of official religious institutions. "They did away with the Ministry of Religious Affairs, and didn't establish an alternative. The mikvaot [ritual baths], kashrut, and yeshivot are in mortal danger."

To all this, Rabbi Arusi adds two recent Supreme Court rulings against the Rabbinical Courts, one Court ruling - which barely passed - against allowing PA Arabs citizenship, and the media's use of superficial means to form public opinion.

The Supreme Court, under the presidency of ultra-secularist Aharon Barak, ruled several weeks ago that the Rabbinical Court can no longer decide monetary matters relating to their divorce-court decisions. More recently, Barak's Court overturned a Rabbinical Court ruling obligating a divorce, ruling that evidence of the woman's adultery was obtained in an illegal manner.

Rabbi Arusi told Avraham that the religious establishment must "form a forum comprising all parts of the religious/hareidi public, and it will decide when the red line has been crossed and when the entire religious public must then resign en-masse from the Knesset. It is not impractical. Just like former Chief Rabbi Avraham Shapira, before the expulsion last summer, saw fit to go to Rabbi Ovadiah Yosef - and he deserves great credit for doing so - the same thing must happen again. No one should wait for the other one, and there's no time to ask who should go to whom. If someone has to go to [hareidi Torah leader] Rabbi Elyashiv, then so be it; as long as they all sit together and decide."

Another practical suggestion put forward by Rabbi Arusi is a massive religious-public protest demonstration against the Supreme Court. A crowd estimated at between a quarter and half a million people protested against the Supreme Court in Jerusalem in February 1999.

Chief Justice Barak wrote to a friend this week about the recent ruling upholding a Knesset statute banning PA Arabs from gaining Israeli citizenship merely for having married an Israeli-Arab. He wrote that though he lost in his efforts to have the Court revoke the law, he is confident that his view will prevail in the end, and that PA Arabs will be able to receive citizenship under such conditions.

"Barak has taken authorities that the law did not intend," Rabbi Arusi said, "and that is to turn the Court into one for constitutional matters. Legally, the Supreme Court has two authorities: to be an appeals court regarding lower court decisions, and to protect citizens from governmental arbitrariness - stemming from either lack of authority or a blow at natural justice. How is it possible that the Court is given two defined authorities, yet it also appoints itself as a Constitutional Court for the most important matters in the country? How can a body comprised of appointees fulfill functions given to those who were elected and whose decisions express the will of the people?"

"Justice Barak is a brilliant jurist," Rabbi Arusi said, "with great knowledge and analytical skills, but in terms of his judicial activism, he is absolutely dangerous."

"In the past," the rabbi said, "when reviewing military procedures and the like, the Court used to check if authorities had been abused and the like, but the judges always emphasized that they were not coming to replace the officers or the Chief of Staff. But ever since Barak started with his judicial activism, he has placed himself above the Chief of Staff, above the ministers, above the Prime Minister, above everyone. He essentially runs the country. This has caused a blurring of the separation of the three branches of government."

Nor is this approach expected to disappear when Barak retires three months from now and is replaced by Justice Dorit Beinish: "His successors have been carefully chosen, one by one, such that the regime of his approach will continue even after he leaves."

"The main problem," said Rabbi Arusi, "is what we saw in this latest case [regarding the Arab marriages and consequent bids for citizenship]." The rabbi noted the claim, overruled by the Court, that 20% of the PA Arabs who have received Israeli citizenship over the past few years were involved in terrorist activity. "Barak sees everything via the prism of 'individual civil rights and human dignity,' without taking the entire picture into account."

This point was elaborated upon in a separate Arutz-7 interview with noted attorney Yoram Sheftel, who said that "human dignity" is a specific concept that includes specific rights:

"It includes, for instance - and this is written clearly - the right not to have your mail tampered with. But nowhere does it state that it includes the right to establish a family with a [citizen] of an enemy entity. If it was important enough to specify the issue of mail-tampering, then certainly the right to establish a family with an enemy citizen should also have been written, and not merely left up to Chief Justice Barak's personal interpretation.

"Nowhere else in the world does a Supreme Court legislate a Constitution based on its own understanding, and then it also goes and nullifies all Knesset laws that don't correspond with his understanding of the word 'dignity.'"