Defense Minister Ehud Barak discussed the issue of insubordination during a meeting with hesder yeshiva heads Tuesday, after a series of incidents that have sparked tension between rabbinic and military authorities.
Barak called the head of the Har Bracha Yeshiva, Rabbi Eliezer Melamed, for a hearing within 48 hours to explain his positions after OC Central Command Maj.-Gen. Avi Mizrahi recommended that the yeshiva Melamed heads be expelled from the hesder yeshiva framework, Channel 10 reported.
Melamed was singled out for censure after publishing a book called Revivim, based on a weekly column of the same name in the right-wing weekly B'Sheva, in which he advocates refusing military orders to evacuate settlements in Judea and Samaria.
Hesder, (Hebrew for "arrangement") is an agreement between the IDF and about 40 religious-Zionist yeshivot under which religious high school graduates can choose a shortened army service of 18 months combined with with three-and-a-half years of yeshiva studies.
About 1,300 high school graduates join the hesder yeshivot every year.
In recent weeks there have been several incidents in which hesder soldiers have waved signs declaring that they would refuse to obey orders to evacuate Jewish settlements. The soldiers were imprisoned.
Rabbi Shlomo Rosenfeld, head of the Shadmot Mehola Yeshiva in the Jordan Valley, one of six yeshiva heads who met Tuesday with Barak, said that the entire issue had been blown out of proportion.
"As far as we are concerned the issue is over and behind us, and we want to move on," said Rosenfeld prior to the meeting. He urged moderation and a meeting of minds between rabbis and IDF generals. "None of the rabbis expressed support for what the soldiers did."
Rabbi David Stav, spokesman for the hesder yeshivot, said the extreme reactions to the incidents prove that either "we have pushed some psychological button or someone is trying to use these incidents to strengthen anti-right-wing positions in Israeli society."
Dr. Aviad Hakohen, dean of Sha'arei Mishpat Legal College, voiced support for the right of yeshiva heads to free expression.
"The right to freedom of speech cannot be [taken] from rabbis and their students," said Hakohen in a press release. "The IDF's scare tactics against the hesder yeshivot and its threats to break off ties are unacceptable."
Science Minister Daniel Herschkowitz (Habayit Hayehudi) wrote a letter Monday to Barak urging him not to remove the Har Bracha Yeshiva from the hesder framework.
"Coming from someone who opposes insubordination and disagrees with Rabbi Melamed on this issue, I am of the opinion that closing the Har Bracha Yeshiva is liable to encourage this dangerous phenomenon and bring a disaster upon the State of Israel and the IDF," he wrote.
"There are people who will see such a move as a challenge and will step up efforts to encourage insubordination.
"Although it is true that the hesder yeshivot have a special connection to the IDF, there are others institutions, such as Army Radio, that are connected to the IDF and nevertheless give media exposure to opinions that encourage left-wing insubordintation and Hamas activists, and no one has ever contemplated closing the station.
"I believe that the State of Israel has to fight calls for insubordination via law enforcement and via dialogue and educational means, not via show trials. I believe that the legal process should be pursued with those who support insubordination, but not by using sanctions."