Sephardic Chief Rabbi Shlomo Amar criticized the haredi parties in the Knesset Wednesday and claimed that they were displaying "weakness on ideological matters" while "focusing too much on budgets".
In a holiday interview with the ultra-Orthodox journal 'Family', Amar expressed discontent for the way Shas and United Torah Judaism handled a Knesset dispute over laws on conversion and civil marriage.
The rabbi claimed the parties did nothing to prevent Yisrael Beiteinu from getting its way or to downsize the damage to the haredi sector. "They only publicized that they did not vote in favor (of the laws)," he said. "Thank you very much, that's nice of them."
Amar added that he was hit hardest by the bills, because he had to perform the MKs' duties for them and was criticized for his failure to prevent the laws. "Nobody vetoed the decision when it was most needed. I was disappointed," he said.
The rabbi explained his involvement in the conversion and marriage bills. "The fact that we have so-and-so non-Jews who are not allowed to marry puts pressure on us to ease conversions, and not only ease, but also allow reform authorities to convert," he said.
"So I said we could amend two things: We can amend the conversion laws and we can give goyim the right to marry between themselves and then the pressure will drop. Really, when you check, you realize that most of them marry each other."
Amar also criticized haredim who believe it is better to risk interfaith marriage and keep a database of genealogy rather than ease conversion.
"It's a disaster," he claimed. "We are helping those who in any case would never consider marrying anyone who is not Jewish but all the rest are being tossed over the fence – they could find themselves outside of the people of Israel."
But in general the rabbi was satisfied with the Jewish character of the Israeli people. "I see today that the faith has become popular. Senior doctors and officers come to me without a yarmulke and say: Bless me," he said.
Amar also made a case for presenting the haredi standpoint calmly and in a politically correct manner. He said the ultra-Orthodox parties were flaring up hatred for religion with heated talk on the issues they find important.