Politicians from the Left and the Right are continuing to blast Habayit Hayehudi Chairman Naftali Bennett for saying that as an officer in the IDF's reserve forces he would prefer to refuse orders if it meant he didn't have to forcefully remove Jewish families from their homes.
Labor Chairwoman Shelly Yachimovich on Saturday branded the statement as "akin to incitement" and stressed that "disobedience is dangerous regardless of whether it is perpetrated on the Right or the Left." Education Minister Gideon Saar (Likud) emphasized that for a politician to be putting his world view above the principles of democracy is disconcerting. Both spoke at a Shabbat Tarbut event in Holon.
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When asked whether he believes that a rabbi's decree trumps a commander's order, the religious party chairman said that the two are not mutually exclusive.
"If a situation arises in which my conscience conflicts (with military orders,) I wouldn't be able to kick a person out of his home," Bennett told Ynet in an interview.
Attempting to qualify his statement, Bennett said that he isn't calling on anyone to disobey orders.
"But as the IDF has been teaching us for generations, if my conscience doesn't allow me to do something, I won't do it," he said. "If you ask me whether I could go into a house and evict a Jew from his home or an Arab from his home, I couldn't do it.
"You won't hear me calling for disobedience because that would devastate the army," he added. "But as a soldier, if I were to be ordered to kick someone out, I would say that I can't and that I'm willing to pay the price."
Statement is 'scandalous'
The Likud, which regards Bennett as a threat to at least some of the party's Knesset seats, did not hold back in using the controversial statements against the politician.
"A politician who is expected to set an example can't talk about refusing an order," Saar, the education minister, said Saturday. "(…) We live in a country that cannot exist for a moment without an army, and the IDF depends on the execution of the government's orders.
"Even during the disengagement (from Gaza,) which I opposed, I urged respect for the choice made by the democratic majority," he continued. "Even soldiers on patrol in Hebron who have leftist opinions and don’t support our presence there know that they live in a democratic country where policies are set by the government and the Knesset, so they abide by (these policies).
"(…) a politician cannot say that he will refuse an order if it doesn't fit in with his world view," he concluded.
Yachimovich, the Labor leader, asserted that the threat of disobedience grows manifold when it is legitimized by a chairman of a party.
"Disobedience chips away at the foundation of the army, the state and democracy," she said. "The IDF … operates under the orders of a government that is legally elected by the people."
Yaakov Peri of Yesh Atid, who spoke at an event in Ramat Gan, went as far as to call Bennett's declaration "scandalous."
"As an IDF officer Bennett cannot under any circumstances call (on soldiers) to disobey orders, even if it serves his political goals," he said. "We cannot mix politics with the sacred values" of the military.
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