Melamed said that despite his disagreeing with those who do not recognize military service as a mitzvah, "It's hard to argue with the haredi stance, when, on occasion, a soldier may have to go to jail in order to follow the halacha laws," he said.
"Religious soldiers can't follow the halacha laws properly in the army. They are forced to change their way of life. It's a problem for a God-fearing man to serve in the IDF today. They tell him that commands come before his conscience," the rabbi said.
In response, Chief IDF Rabbi Rafi Peretz blamed the religious community for agitating the crisis surrounding women's singing in the army.
He remarked: "Our public has turned this into an issue," causing the IDF to get dragged into the mix. According to Peretz, the spiritual conditions of religious and haredi soldiers in the army are extremely good and only improving.
Both rabbis participated in the Jerusalem Conference on Monday, sponsored by Besheva Magazine.
'IDF chief isn't an educator'
Rabbi Melamed also voiced his opinion against IDF heads who, he believes, try to promote liberal values and take a stand on controversial issues. "The IDF chief isn't a puritan or an educator. He should stick to his proffesion and not to the exclusion of women… The IDF doesn't understand its function as Israel's defense force. That's his only job," he commented.
Chief IDF rabbi fought back saying: "The IDF has always viewed its commanders as educators. The IDF chief deals with educational and ideological issues and sees it as an integral part of him being the military chief."
"The IDF is open to all – even to haredim," he added.
Peretz clarified he is not at ease regarding the rate of religious soldiers in the army in relation to the population. "We're doomed if the army will not be the army of the people but the 'army of,'" he said.
He also objected to those calling to support the draft dodging, saying: "Many soldiers protect us despite not believing that we should be in one ounce of the places they are at, and they do it devotedly and lovingly."