MK Nitzan Horowitz (Meretz) on Sunday will introduce a bill aimed at limiting the activities of religious leaders interacting with the IDF and Israel Police.
"People of different faiths, as well as the secular, serve in the Israel Defense Forces and Israel Police, and any ceremony or event attended by a clergyman may amount to religious coercion, or the appearance of coercion," Horowitz wrote in his explanatory notes for the bill.
"This act would restrict access to soldiers and police by any rabbi, imam, priest, or any other person who has authority or role in one of the religious communities, as well as any person who manages prayers or religious ceremonies of any kind," Horowitz wrote.
Horowitz said the bill would not restrict the authority or access of religious leaders formally employed as chaplains by the IDF or Police, and that it allows for additional visits by clergy where an IDF officer of the rank of Major General – or the rank of Commander in the police – approves.
Two months ago the Knesset flatly rejected a bill initiated by MK Horowitz against the entry of emissaries from the Chabad Hassidic movement – known for their dedication to IDF soldiers and for their outreach, providing religious services to Jews who would otherwise not have them – to military bases on the holidays.
Horowitz argued, "Outside clergy who enter military bases, and take over meeting halls and synagogues used by officers, staff, and soldiers, have a captive audience who cannot choose not to participate."
Horowitz’s latest bill – decried as militant secular coercion in its own right by its detractors – is not expected to garner sufficient support to be passed into law. The bill is scheduled to be discussed by the Ministerial Committee on Legislation on Sunday.