The nomination of Colonel Eyal Karim on Monday for Israel Defense Forces' next chief rabbi has sparked outrage amongst Israeli female politicians and women's rights groups, who point to Karim's history of misogynistic interpretations of Judaism, which include legitimizing the rape of non-Jewish women and girls.
The rabbi's 2003 response to a question as to whether it was permitted for IDF soldiers to rape girls is one of his more controversial comments.
"Although fraternizing with a non-Jewess is a very bad thing, it is allowable in war out of consideration for the difficulties of the fighters," Karim said, according to Haaretz. "And because the success of the collective is what mostly concerns us in war, the Torah allows the individual to satisfy his lust in the permitted conditions for the sake of the general success."
Karim has since said his comments were taken out of context; the IDF has echoed this sentiment.
"Colonel Karim wishes to emphasize the fact that the comment made by him was purely in response to an interpretive question, and in no way whatsoever in response to a practical religious question," an IDF spokesman said, the Telegraph reported.
"Rabbi Karim has never written, said or even thought that an IDF soldier may, under any circumstances, sexually harm women, even in times of war — the person interpreting what was said was not only wrong but also misleading," the spokesman added.
However, Karim's controversy extends well beyond his hypothetical views on rape. He has also said women should not be allowed to serve in the military and been associated with comments stating the Torah dictates non-Jews should have less rights than Jews.
In 2013, Karim was leading a military rabbinate which published material outlining such an argument. "The concept that non-Jews have equal rights with Jews in Israel goes against the opinion of the Torah, and the state's representatives have no authority to act against the Torah's will," the booklet said, according to the Guardian.