IDF general slams 'rabbi's values'
Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee discusses recent cases of disobedience in military. Head of army's Personnel Directorate tells MKs about his meeting with hesder yeshivot leaders. Rabbi's representative: If you want to prosecute yeshiva heads – go ahead
Major-General Avi Zamir, head of the Israel Defense Forces Personnel Directorate, said that the army and defense establishment have complained to the State Prosecutor's Office against elements preaching insubordination.
The general told the committee members about meetings he had with the leaders of the union of hesder yeshivot, which combine advanced Talmudic studies with military service, during which he demanded a public and sweeping condemnation of all cases of disobedience.
"During the meeting, I presented the serious incident as it is perceived by the IDF. I asked whether it is worthwhile recruiting hesder yeshiva students, who are educated this way. I demanded actions, not just a condemnation," Zamir said.
"In an inquiry we conducted, I was particularly astonished by a book written by Rabbi Melamed (the rabbi of Beit El), in which I found several quotes such as 'the refuseniks from the Right are righteous.' I demanded that the union leaders clarify Rabbi Melamed's opinions, the values he educates his students to adopt, and whether this is the educational level," Major-General Zamir added.
The Personnel Directorate head said that generalizations must be avoided, adding, "We will examine the status of each yeshiva. I believe we must not create a rift in the model of the army's people, which is a matter we must act on in a firm and clear manner."
Rabbi David Stav, representing the union of hesder yeshivot, mentioned the sweeping condemnations against political protests in the army, adding that this was the general opinion of all yeshiva heads.
"It's not true that people belonging to hesder yeshivot are involved in all of these incidents. The call for negating academic freedom, which we grant to heads of universities, must not come out from here. It's unthinkable that a yeshiva head will not be allowed to voice his opinion. If he violates the law, he can be prosecuted.
"This must be handled on the fundamental level: The phenomenon must be denounced, the yeshiva heads must be reprimanded for their severe remarks, and if you think legal action should be taken against them – go ahead."
The union includes 62 yeshivot, with new 1,300 soldiers joining every year.