Hesder officials: IDF can't censure us

Hesder officials vow to

negohot nachshon soldiers 248.88 (photo credit: Courtesy of Negohot resident Asaf Freed)
negohot nachshon soldiers 248.88
(photo credit: Courtesy of Negohot resident Asaf Freed)
Hesder yeshiva heads declared Sunday night they would fight any attempts by the IDF to penalize the Har Bracha Yeshiva, whose head, Rabbi Eliezer Melamed, has called on soldiers to refuse to act against settlers and settlements. OC Central Command Maj.-Gen. Avi Mizrahi has asked Defense Minister Ehud Barak to cut the army's ties with the northern West Bank yeshiva due to repeated calls by Melamed for his students to refuse orders to demolish illegal West Bank outposts and enforce government policies against settlers. Har Bracha is a hesder yeshiva, which maintains a program that combines Torah study with military service. Overnight Sunday, meanwhile, Israel Radio reported that Rabbi Haim Druckman, a Religious Zionist leader, wrote a letter late last week to hesder yeshiva heads, asking them to refrain from inciting future soldiers to protest while in uniform. "Students must know that while the struggle over the Land of Israel is a just one, there exist red lines, and there is no room for protesting in the army," Druckman wrote. Last Wednesday, Mizrahi spoke about Zionist values to future IDF conscripts at the Eli pre-military academy. He addressed the recent calls for insubordination that have emerged from elements in the national-religious camp, and noted that some religious leaders in the settlements were calling on soldiers to refuse orders. Citing a book authored by Melamed, Mizrahi said the yeshiva head's calls were unacceptable, adding that he had formally requested that Barak end ties with the yeshiva and that his request had received the approval of IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gabi Ashkenazi, The Jerusalem Post has learned. Rabbi David Stav, spokesman for the Union of Hesder Yeshivas, said he was not surprised by Mizrahi's recommendation. "But we will fight against singling out any yeshiva for censure," said Stav. "The yeshiva heads have not met to decide on our course of action. We could fight it in the legal arena or organize demonstrations or even take more drastic steps that I am not at liberty to discuss right now." Rabbi Shlomo Rosenfeld, head of the Shadmot Mehola Yeshiva, was more reserved. He was one of six yeshiva heads who met last week with OC Human Resources Maj.-Gen. Avi Zamir after a series of incidents in which soldiers from the Kfir Brigade demonstratively waved banners, declaring they would not take part in the evacuation of Jewish settlements. Rosenfeld said that the meeting with Zamir was held on good terms and he hoped that the reports about Mizrahi were not true. "I got the feeling that the IDF understands that we don't have to endanger the entire hesder project just because a few soldiers wave a sign," he said. About 1,300 high school graduates annually enroll the few dozen hesder yeshivas across the country, where they combine 18 months of IDF service with three-and-a-half years of yeshiva studies. The mandatory army service for IDF soldiers who are not enrolled in hesder is three years. Rabbi Elyakim Levanon, head of the Elon Moreh Yeshiva, said in response that if the IDF wanted to expel the Har Bracha Yeshiva from the hesder arrangement it would be a loss, first and foremost, to the IDF. "Hesder soldiers are some of the most disciplined, motivated and all-around best fighters in the IDF," said Levanon, who has also expressed support for insubordination if soldiers are ordered to evacuate settlements. "The IDF's reaction to a few soldiers waving signs is totally disproportionate," he said. Regarding his support for insubordination, Levanon said that he was relying on the opinion of the late Rabbi Avraham Shapira, the former Ashkenazi chief rabbi and head of the Mercaz Harav Yeshiva. "Rabbi Shapira spoke about a very specific, clear-cut situation," he said. MK Ya'acov Katz (National Union), who helped establish the Har Bracha Yeshiva, said in response that the present "declaration of war" on the yeshivas is "part of an ongoing plan to halt the advancement of the religious and haredi public toward attaining key positions in Israeli society.  "The IDF and the state of Israel should be proud of the hesder yeshiva graduates, and in particular of the graduates of the Har Bracha Yeshiva."  Jpost.com staff contributed to this report