Daily Israel Report

Rabbis Demand Hands Off Hesder Yeshivot, As Teens Join Protests

Dozens of rabbis of the National-Religious movement met Sunday night in Jerusalem to discuss the problems facing the movement,
By David Lev
First Publish: 11/22/2009, 9:54 PM / Last Update: 11/22/2009, 10:22 PM

Israel news photo


A banner unfurled by Bnai Akiva youths said 'Netzach does not remove Jews from Homesh.'
Dozens of rabbis of the National-Religious movement met Sunday night in Jerusalem to discuss the problems facing the movement, especially the issue of protests by religious soldiers against the expulsion of Jews from their homes in communities that the government terms "illegal outposts."

The discussion came a day after the phenomenon of soldiers refusing to remove Jews from their homes seemed to have filtered down to Israelis even before army age, as members of the Bnai Akiva youth movement in the town of Hasmonaim, halfway betweeen Tel Aviv and Jerusalem, unfurled their own banner during Saturday night's annual ceremonies, celebrated by the Bnai Akiva movement worldwide. The banner read "Netzach (the name of the Bnai Akiva group) does not remove Jews from Homesh," referring to the northern Samaria town cleared of its residents during the expulsion program in 2005.

Residents of Hashonaim told Arutz 7 that they heartily approved of the youths' initiative. In an interview, one of the youths said that the banner was designed "to support the IDF soldiers who in recent days protested orders to remove Jews from their homes." The youth added that he admired the soldiers who had received orders to act against their fellow Jews and decided to defy them. According to youths who participated in the protest, the banner was the idea of several students in IDF pre-army academies and Hesder yeshivot.

The Nachson and Shimshon battalion soldiers who unfurled similar banners recently were also students in these institutions, and IDF brass have been calling for investigations into how the students were being educated. Top officers have argued that it was possible that the army will end the "hesder" program for yeshivot who encourage students to disobey orders to expel Jews and at the same time encourage them to fight in elite IDF units. On Sunday night, rabbis of the National-Religious movement sent a message to Defense Minister Ehud Barak that the yeshivot are united, and that no yeshiva will not tolerate sanctions against any other one.

"We demand that the Prime Minister and Defense Minister conduct an in-depth discussion on the question of participation by soldiers in the removal of Jews from their homes in Judea and Samaria." the rabbis said in a statement. "It is not proper to force soldiers to act against their consciences and beliefs. We also ask the heads of the Hesder yeshivot to stand united against the possibility of the abrogation of the 'hesder' [arrangement] with any of the yeshivot."

The statement, addressing the Prime Minister and the IDF Chief of Staff, added that "before you harm the Hesder yeshivot, whose soldiers are dedicated to the state, you should stop sending your officers to universities, where the lecturers speak against the state and the IDF and call for disobeying orders in the wars against our enemies."