"Religious Zionism has lost its true substance and has become a cult," said MK Otniel Schneller (Kadima) Wednesday at the Religious Zionism conference on education, the economy and society.
Dozens of rabbis, educators and public figures took part in the conference, which marked 60 years of Religious Zionism. The conference held various panels on subjects such as the breakdown of the educational system, the conversions crisis, the growing use of internet services among the religious sector, military prep-schools and the challenges the religious sector may face in view of the coming elections.
Speaking at one of the conference's panels, Schneller, a religions Jew, slammed the religious and political leadership of the national-religious public, saying "I grow up in an environment which perceived the rabbi as the 'whole'. The leaders of Religious Zionism have taken this whole and pulled it apart, supporting only one of its parts.
"The fight for the Land of Israel is important, but hailing it as the sole theme makes Religious Zionism a cult. I know many of you will resent this definition, but this wasn't the way taught by the Religious Zionism I grew up on."
Schneller went on to criticize the Religious Zionism rabbis' involvement in politics, saying that every decision religious politicians want to make must be clear by the rabbis first. "We've become nothing but a small group of kippah wearers," he said.
The lawmaker went on to say he does not like to use the term "Religious Zionism" as the title of his public sector, seeing how "it is a leaden term which constricts instead of expands."
MK Schneller then went on to describe his "10 Commandments" for saving Religious Zionism from oblivion, citing keeping the integrity of the people of Israel, making sure all religious sectors work together, accepting various conceptions on a variety of issues and developing a political leadership independent from rabbinical influence, as several possible courses of action.
"Religious Zionism cannot stay closed up within itself. If it does it will suffocate," he concluded.