After the extreme Right called on teens not to enlist in the Israel Defense Forces if Major-General (res.) Yair Naveh becomes Deputy Chief of Staff, the designated deputy received support from an unexepcted source – Beit El's Rabbi Zalman Melamed, who sent Naveh his good wishes on the appointment. "Your success in an honor to God and an honor to Israel", he wrote, "Fear not, be strong".
In the letter, Rabbi Melamed reminded the designated deputy chief of staff of a meeting they held on the eve of the Disengagement, where their differing opinions on the right to refuse an order were discussed. "It didn't stop me from seeing how successful you were in your role as the Central Command Chief who minimized terror in Judea and Samaria" he wrote, "I also know that the order of expulsion which you were forced to implement – though you did so against your will and against your beliefs – you saw through with consideration, out of your deep connection to the settler community".
The rabbi sees Naveh's new role as "important, great and filled with responsibility", and sums up that the choice is a positive one for the people of Israel, the Land of Israel, and the Torah.
For his part, Naveh responded to Rabbi Melamed's letter with a letter of his own where he wrote that he is returning to active duty due to "a sense of duty and the circumstances". Naveh thanked the rabbi for his good wishes and added: "In spite of criticism from certain circles, I hope that I find favor before God and man".
In a sermon he gave before his students at the Beit El Yeshiva, the rabbi praised Naveh: "I was enthusiastic when I heard the news of his appointment. He is an exceptional officer who suppressed terror, loves his country and has strong spiritual roots. We differ in our opinions over the right to refuse an order, but he went ahead with it (the Disengagement) under duress, with no enthusiasm. He was heart broken. His own family protested."
'Religious officers a blessing'
MK Yaakov Katz, chairman of the National Union, and member of Rabbi Melamed's inner circle, supported the rabbi's statements and added: "Every Yarmulke-wearing officer with Naveh's values is in itself a blessing. The fact that religious IDF officers are taking their rightful place in the IDF – and the rest of the state's establishments – is great news both for them and for the nation".
The right-wing publication B'Sheva, which is considered Rabbi Melamed's mouthpiece, also took a supportive stance. Editor Emanuel Shilo wrote: "We hope and aspire to see more and more sectors in public life run with an eye to Jewish law, and out of ideological considerations and a Jewish outlook.
"We believe that an army with religious senior (officers) would be more in favor of operating within the boundaries of the Jewish ethic of moral combat which will protect the lives of our soldiers, and not out of universal codes and dictates which Israel is forced to follow under the morally lacking eye of the hypocritical world."
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