The Duchifat Battalion insubordination on Monday is the worst possible kind. It has no ideological or theological justification.
It’s the type of insubordination aimed at stirring anger, the product of the radical stream for whom the unity of the State is of no interest and the army's resilience is of no essence. It’s the type of insubordination that draws on demagogical rabbis who are willing to untie any knot that is still keeping this society and army together.
In light of their unfounded hatred and arrogance they are destined to lose what they hold most sacred. If the decay of insubordination spreads, there will be no IDF, and there will be no Greater Israel.
The secular population is also to blame: While the head of the IDF Human Resource directorate complains that in Tel Aviv and other wealthy areas there are fewer youngsters who risk their lives in field units, the yeshiva students are increasing their numbers in combat units. They come to these units instilled with impassioned Zionist ideology, but also with a desire to impact society and its makeup.
There is nothing wrong with this, but it carries a heavy burden of responsibility. The more they take up prominent positions in combat units and in the IDF's ranks of command, their responsibility towards the army and society increases accordingly.
It is inconceivable that an exterior spiritual leadership can replace the professional chain of command. It is inconceivable that a rabbi's decree can annul a legal order. How far are we from a situation where a religious ruling would bring a battalion's operations to a halt?
Let it be clear: The religious soldiers in the Duchifat Battalion did not receive an order to evacuate settlers. They were supposed to replace the Border Police who were sent to evacuate two houses in Hebron that were seized illegally. However, Rabbi Dov Lior, an important adjudicator and the head of the Nir yeshiva, decided to present his students with an impossible dilemma. He bypassed the military commanders and instructed the soldiers to refuse orders.
On Wednesday of this week the High Court of Justice will rule on the route of the separation fence, which will probably not be to the liking of some rabbi or other. What would happen if he instructs his students to stop patrolling the fence, arguing that the Land of Israel has been abandoned? Where do we draw the line? If these are the norms according to which the State of Israel is wiling to live, we can shut down the army and go home. Let the rabbis run the army.
For those who have forgotten: Rabbi Lior, along with a small group of Hesder yeshiva students in Judea and Samaria, blatantly called for a sweeping refusal prior to and during the disengagement from the Gaza Strip. Following this incitement, then Chief of Staff Dan Halutz announced that he planned to stop the arrangement with these yeshivot, that is, abolish the enlistment of yeshiva students within the Hesder framework and in so doing, do away with the substantial financial support they receive from the Defense Ministry.
Two years have elapsed and nothing has been done. Now people are wondering: How did it transpire that this rotten fruit, exposed during the disengagement from Gaza, is emitting such a stench threatening to spread throughout the camp?
Some of the best IDF combat troops came from and continue to come from the Nir yeshiva and other Hesder yeshivas. National-religious Jews man more than 50 percent of the officer courses in the infantry corps. Some 80 percent of soldiers from the Hesder yeshivas serve in combat positions. They also comprise the majority in the elite commando units.
The commanders nurture and praise the yeshiva divisions for their humane qualities, dedication and motivation.
When the applause phase ends we should ask: Why do the Hesder yeshiva students only serve 16 months and not 36 as do their battalion counterparts?
When IDF Human Resources Directorate Head Major General Elazar Stern, who is also a religious Jew, dared ask why Hesder yeshiva students have to serve in separate divisions instead of being integrated into other battalions where "ordinary" religious soldiers serve - he was almost stoned.
With all due respect to the Hesder yeshiva students, their ethos must be clearly defined and placed in strict boundaries.