Two leading Sefardi haredi rabbis signed a public letter with 48 other haredi rabbis against drafting haredi yeshiva dropouts into the IDF – even if they are drafted exclusively into haredi-only army units.
Above: Rabbi Shalom Cohen, left; Rabbi Meir Mazuz, right.
2 Top Sefardi Haredi Rabbis Sign Public Letter Against Drafting Haredi Yeshiva Dropouts
Shmarya Rosenberg • FailedMessiah.com
Two leading Sefardi haredi rabbis signed a public letter with 48 other haredi rabbis against drafting haredi yeshiva dropouts into the IDF.
Rabbi Shalom Cohen, the head of Sefardi haredi Shas Party’s Council of Torah Sages, and Rabbi Meir Mazuz, who plays a similar role in Shas breakaway Eli Yishai’s new Ha’am Itanu Party, both allegedly signed the letter. The two rabbis are rivals and Cohen made a derogatory remark about Mazuz’s yeshiva network Saturday nighty at a public lecture.
Mazuz's supporters now reportedly claim he didn’t sign the letter or that he did sign it, but that it was only meant spiritual guidance and not for political use.
According to a report in Ha’aretz, the public letter, titled “To our brothers of the Edot Hamizrach – a faithful call,” opposes drafting haredi yeshiva dropouts – even if they are drafted into all-haredi IDF units.
The letter was published Sunday in Ha’peles, the newspaper of the Ashkenazi haredi non-hasidic rebel faction headed by Rabbi Shmuel Auerbach. The letter adopted Auerbach’s position forbidding haredim who receive draft notices from reporting to IDF induction centers – even though they can do so and get exemptions from IDF service there.
“We were shocked to the depths of our souls by the government plans of persecution and hatred of religion to destroy the world of Torah and demolish all our futures,” the letter reportedly says.
Yishai’s new party, which Mazuz spiritually leads, is trying to form an alliance with Auerbach’s B’nei Torah Party so they can run with a joint Knesset list in the upcoming election. But Yoni Chetboun, one of Yishai’s party members and a current Member of Knesset elected on the Zionist Orthodox HaBayit HaYehudi Party’s list, is an IDF combat veteran and is thought likely to remain in HaBayit HaYehudi if he believes Mazuz really signed the letter.
But no matter what, the letter – which was heavily publicized in Israel – will likely sap votes from both Shas and Yishai’s new party. Both parties depend heavily on non-haredi votes from non-Orthodox Sefardi traditionalists, almost all of whom are IDF veterans who support drafting haredim.