Rightists: Postpone yeshiva enlistment to IDF
Following defense minister's decision to sever ties with Har Bracha yeshiva over 'insubordinate' rabbi, rightist launch initiative to urge yeshiva students to delay enlistment to military, saying, 'We are all Har Bracha'
Efrat Weiss • Ynet
Following Defense Minister Ehud Barak's decision to remove the Har Bracha yeshiva from the arrangement with the IDF, right-wing activists are planning to form groups to visit yeshivas across the country and urge students to cancel the arrangement and put off their enlistment to the military.
The initiative is backed by prominent right-wingers, including Baruch Marzel, who told Ynet, "It needs to be understood that the military has much more to lose than the hesder yeshivas. There is a huge lack of manpower and motivated fighters are an obvious need of the IDF."
"(Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu) and (Defense Minister Ehud Barak) are leading the military to its collapse and they will be held responsible."
In the first stage of the initiative, yeshiva students will not be called to permanently sever their ties with the military, but only to freeze the situation, and postpone the recruitment of two classes.
Head of the Kiryat Arba hesder yeshiva Rabbi Eliezer Waldman said, "We are all Har Bracha, we will not let Har Bracha be removed from the arrangement."
Safed Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu, one of the leading rabbis of religious Zionism, called an urgent session of the Chief Rabbinate Council to mobilize rabbis across the country against Barak's intention to interfere with the yeshiva's independence.
According to Eliyahu: "The greatest sages of Israel and the ages have given their soul in order for us to maintain the freedom of the judges to rule according to Halacha and we expect the Chief Rabbinate to calls all rabbis, without any distinction, to stand at the front line against the defense minister's plans."
Military sources in the GOC Central Command and Personnel Directorate welcomed Barak's decision on Sunday to remove the Har Bracha hesder yeshiva from its arrangement with the IDF, 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. 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."
Graduates threaten to refuse reserves duty
Dozens of hesder yeshiva graduates are also threatened not to report for reserves service if the IDF cuts its ties with Har Bracha. In a letter to IDF Chief of Staff Gabi Ashkenazi on Monday, the signatories protests the sanctions Barak imposed on Har Bracha's head Rabbi Eliezer Melamed, who refused to condemn soldiers' protests and insubordination in the military.
The reserves soldiers, some of which took part in the Second Lebanon War and Operation Cast Lead in Gaza, stressed that their high motivation and fighting spirit came from the hesder yeshivas in which they studied, but when the military chooses to call off the arrangement with them, they are left with no choice but to do the same.
One of the signatories, Eviatar Harif from Beit El, told Ynet: "Our public has proven that it has the highest motivation… If the defense minister wants to cancel the arrangement, we will obey and follow the decision. We will not show up to reserves duty.
"We are not third class citizens. It can't be that professors can say what they wish, calling settlers and all kinds of groups 'Judeo-Nazis' and incite to insubordination on the other side, and the IDF continues to maintain ties with them… We have values to fight our best when needed, but also to refuse when we must. The defense minister has lost his values, but he cannot us expect this to happen to us as well."
Hesder yeshiva rabbis have already warned the army's Manpower Branch and the defense minister that their war on the arrangement with yeshivas would only deepen the problem of insubordination, and it seems that rabbis that up until now have abstained from expressing their opinion on the matter will have no choice but to take a side.
Kobi Nahshoni contributed to this report.