Defense Minister Barak
Photo: Ido Erez
Erez Eshel

IDF officers laud decision to sever ties with yeshiva

Senior military sources commend Defense Minister Barak's decision to remove Har Bracha yeshiva from religious seminaries' arrangement following statements favoring insubordination. 'We cannot abide action meant to undermine IDF,' one of them says

Military sources in the GOC Central Command and Personnel Directorate welcomed Defense Minister Ehud Barak's decision on Sunday to remove the Har Bracha hesder yeshiva from the religious seminaries' arrangement with the Israel Defense Forces, over its support of insubordination among soldiers.


A senior officer told Ynet that the decision clarifies that a soldier "has only one commander and that is not his rabbi."


Dozens of yeshivot and thousands of students are included in the arrangement. The program is constructed of four years, 18 months of which are spent in routine IDF service and an additional two and a half years in service without pay.


The arrangement aims to allow members of the religious Zionism sector to take part in meaningful combat service without compromising their Torah studies.


Earlier Sunday, the ultimatum set by Deputy Defense Minister MK Matan Vilnai to Rabbi Eliezer Melamed - head of the Har Bracha yeshiva, whose statements supporting insubordination eventually led to the defense minister's unprecedented decision – expired.


Vilnai demanded Melamed recant his statements or face the consequences. Melamed refused, further deciding  to snub Barak, when he decided not to attend a Defense Ministry hearing scheduled in the matter.


According to his associates, Melamed's decision stemmed from his aversion of the "nature of the discourse" with Barak, which includes "setting an ultimatum via the media and scheduling a meeting and a hearing."


Sources in the IDF Central Command and Personnel Directorate were content with Barak's decision, saying that "the rabbis must realize that any such call, which is a direct result of their education, will bring about their yeshiva's exclusion from the program."


'Tougher action needed'

Hesder yeshivot have been the focus of many debates in the military, since while no one disputes the high quality soldiers who graduate their ranks, many in the military are uncomfortable with the face that some hesder soldier tend to heed their rabbi more than their commanding officer.


"This military doesn’t pick its missions and any mission might seem inappropriate for this sector or another. We cannot abide a situation where some hesder soldier hoist banners, declare they will refuse orders or take any other action to undermine the institution that is the IDF," said a senior officer.


"If any rabbi can deflect these soldiers' attention from the great value (of service) that he is not worthy of being included in the special arrangement."


Barak's decision has already enraged the Right and the military expects it to evoke some unrest, but IDF sources told Ynet the decision was the right one to make in the long-run and that harsher, more immediate steps must be taken against any seminary preaching insubordination in the future.


Erez Eshel, head of the Israeli Academy for Leadership, a pre-military academy in Kfar Adumim criticized Melamed's behavior, but told Ynet that Barak erred in his decision.


"This move is taking us back 13 years, to a time when the rising tensions between the Right and the Left spiraled out of control – because everyone is right."


Eshel said he regretted the fact that the IDF severed its ties with Har Bracha yeshiva, but added that "insubordination is a grave thing in a democracy."


Nevertheless, he continued, the IDF cannot afford to lose hundreds of soldiers, especially considering the increasing numbers of draft dodgers.


"After the disengagement, an entire public was left hurting and wondering about its inclusion (in society), so any move must be made with extreme caution."


Naama Lanir, Daniel Edelson and Kobi Nahshoni contributed to this report


פרסום ראשון: 12.14.09, 00:53
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