The Defense Ministry and Defense Minister Ehud Barak issued an official response on Thursday to a High Court of Justice petition by sixty-three Har Bracha Yeshiva students against Barak's decision to remove the institute from the hesder arrangement with the IDF, according to which religious youths serve 16 months in the army and spend close to four years studying in yeshiva.
An IDF investigation showed that Rabbi Eliezer Melamed instructed students at the yeshiva he heads to protest orders that contradict the institution's political agenda, the Defense Ministry wrote. The state also quoted relevant passages from Melamed's book.In its response, the state stressed the importance of the hesder program. "The hesder yeshiva enterprise is very important and was rightly awarded the Israel Prize," read the Defense Ministry's statement. However, the state went on to write that Rabbi Melamed had crossed the line when he refused to acknowledge the principle of subordination and the obligation to follow orders in the IDF."The decision regarding the Har Bracha Yeshiva sends out a clear,resolute message that a yeshiva head cannot undermine the principle ofsubordination, harm the IDF, make a mockery of its commanders andencourage disobedience," it read.The state further alleged that Melamed had "refused to apologize andclarify his position when given a chance to do so." Such a figure, saidthe state, cannot stand at the head of an institution which educatesfuture soldiers and "still enjoy the privileges and benefits providedto the yeshiva by the IDF and the Defense Ministry."The statement stressed that the criticism of Har Bracha was nottargeted at any particular sector. "The IDF recognizes that Israelisociety is pluralistic, and is making efforts to embrace thisdiversity," it read. "The IDF cannot accept a situation where soldiers do not see themselvesas wholly and completely bound to the authority of the military and itscommanders," it concluded.