Deputy minister Ben-Dahan to stay in IDF corps

Bayit Yehudi's deputy minister for religious services fights to stay on in roll as reserve duty operations officer for the Artillery Corps.

June 19, 2013 02:40
2 minute read.
Eli Ben-Dahan

Eli Ben Dahan 370. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post)

Since being elected to the Knesset and appointed deputy minister for religious services, Bayit Yehudi MK Eli Ben-Dahan has had to fight battles on numerous fronts – be it the struggle within his party over which candidate to back for chief rabbi, or the internecine skirmishes that have erupted within the coalition over pieces of contentious legislation.

But while clear-cut successes in the game of political combat are often hard to achieve, at least he has claimed victory in his latest battle: The IDF has cleared him to continue in his position as a reserve duty operations officer for the Artillery Corps.

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Following his election and ministerial appointment, the IDF informed the 59- year-old Ben-Dahan, a major in the reserves, that he would no longer be serving in the position he had hitherto fulfilled. The army told him that he would instead be assigned a clerical position away from any significant operational activity.

But Ben-Dahan says he was dissatisfied with this situation and, believing that he could still contribute to the armed forces, asked to be returned to his unit in the Artillery Corps. The deputy minister has been serving in the reserve Artillery Corps for close to four decades and was loath to give it up.

As an operations officer, Ben-Dahan is responsible for coordinating operations between different batteries and artillery units and ensuring that the correct targets are being fired on, among other duties.

“It’s a job that requires a great deal of knowledge and understanding of the nature of an artillery unit, so because of my experience in the field, I didn’t see any reason to stop serving,” he told The Jerusalem Post on Tuesday.

He added that by continuing to serve in the army, he could provide a personal example of the ability to integrate the values of a religious lifestyle and those of physically safeguarding the country.

Ben-Dahan, an ordained rabbi, served for 21 years as the director of the state rabbinical court system. He is scheduled to receive a promotion to lieutenantcolonel (res.) in the coming months.

Asked about the particularly heavy burden of service within the Artillery Corps, of which many soldiers often complain, Ben-Dahan said that as he is not as young as he used to be, he no longer handles artillery shells himself.

The deputy minister has, however, experienced the realities of war, and was on active duty in the field during the 1982 Lebanon War, known as Operation Peace for Galilee.

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