With the announcement by Defense Minister Ehud Barak of the removal of Yeshivat Har Brachah from the Hesder arrangement, the ball has now passed to the students of that yeshiva and future Hesder students, analysts estimate. If they choose the yeshiva over the army, as some indications show, Barak will have lost his showdown with yeshiva head Rabbi Eliezer Melamed.
It was reported last week that interest among prospective students in Yeshivat Har Brachah had increased dramatically, with more of them asking to visit for the traditional "12th grade yeshiva week" than in previous years.
The Manhigut Yehudit (Jewish Leadership) faction of the Likud and other nationalist groups are calling on Hesder students to either switch to Yeshivat Har Brachah or push off their enlistment for at least a number of months. Israel National News has learned that activists will be visiting Hesder yeshivot in the coming days, in an attempt to get students postpone or cancel outright their army service. Students who have already signed up for the five-year study-and-enlist terms of service are generally not able to leave this framework, but many students have not yet signed up, leaving them free to change their plans.
The test will come this coming March, when the next Hesder enlistment is scheduled; new Hesder student-soldiers enlist twice a year, in March and in August.
Minister Herskovitz: Barak Was Wrong
Minister of Science Rabbi Prof. Daniel Herskovitz, head of the Jewish Home party, said he opposes refusal of orders, “but Barak’s handling of this situation was wrong. By treating Rabbi Melamed in this manner, the only one that will lose will be the IDF, because many of its top soldiers will leave the Hesder program.”
MK Uri Orbach (Jewish Home) referred to the illegal foreign worker that was recently discovered working in Barak’s home: “Barak thinks that the Hesder yeshiva heads are his Philippine workers. They are not his illegal workers but are rather citizens with rights equal to his.”
Ketzaleh: More Cruel Decrees from Netanyahu and Barak
MK Yaakov Katz (Ketzaleh), head of the National Union party, told the Knesset that the construction freeze in Judea and Samaria and the closing of the Hesder in Har Brachah are “merely the two most recent cruel decrees of the Netanyahu/Barak government… The Jewish Nation will not forgive you [Netanyahu]. You will be remembered not as one who continued the path of Jabotinsky and Shamir, but as the one who followed those who made cruel decrees against the Jewish People throughout history.”
Moshe Feiglin, head of Manhigut Yehudit, said, “The ball has now been passed from the courageous hands of Rabbi Melamed to the students. Those who have not yet joined the army, and 12th grade students who planned to join Hesder, must push off their army service now and enroll in the Har Brachah yeshiva.”
Women in Green stated, “Our sons remain loyal to the Land of Israel. As mothers of sons, many of whom are in Hesder yeshivot, we strengthen the hands of Rabbi Melamed and cannot understand why his yeshiva was removed from the Hesder arrangement. Our sons will not expel Jews from parts of their homeland, despite Ehud Barak’s punishments and sanctions.
"Their loyalty to the Land of Israel [is what] our sons received primarily at home, and this cannot be erased. The lessons of Gush Katif and northern Shomron were learned; the children of the summer of 2005 [the Disengagement] are now soldiers who are prepared to give their all to defend the nation and the land – but not to help Ehud Barak’s political machinations.”
Former MK Yisrael Eichler of the hareidi United Torah Judaism party said, “The media is waging a long-term campaign against the religious soldiers in the army because it is afraid that they are liable to take command and establish a Jewish state here.”