'For Jews, Religion and Nationality the Same'

Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman believes in keeping religion and state together - in certain contexts, at least.

Hezki Baruch ,

Liberman, at Yisrael Beytenu event
Liberman, at Yisrael Beytenu event

Foreign Minister Avigdor Liberman expressed strong opinions on the role of religion in the State of Israel Wednesday, in a speech at a Yisrael Beytenu party event. 

"When talking about the Jewish state, is important to emphasize that in the national sense and not in the religious sense," Liberman said. He added that Yisrael Beytenu is very much for Jewish tradition in Israel.

"We respect the religion and Judaism," he said. "Without Judaism and tradition, we would not be standing on this podium. Without Judaism we would not be here and have not established the State Israel and therefore we can do no harm to Jewish tradition in Israel." 

The Foreign Minister stressed that his party opposes the separation of religion and state.

"In the state of Israel you cannot separate religion and state," he said. "As Jews, we do not distinguish between religion and nationality." 

With this, Liberman sharply criticized the Chief Rabbinate as a political organization, and said that he supports separating religious institutions from politics and religion from political discussions.

"We cannot have two chief rabbis, who are employed by the State of Israel, come out and participate in a demonstration against the law of the State of Israel," he said, relating to demonstrations against the hareidi draft. 

"The reality in the haredi community, which itself does not recognize the Chief Rabbinate and its own institutions and kosher symbols - is intolerable," he concluded.