Cadets Dismissed for Praying, MKs Angry

MKs Orlev, Katz blast commanders who dismissed cadets who prayed shacharit instead of attending a lesson.

Gil Ronen ,

Religious soldier at rest.
Religious soldier at rest.
Israel news photo: Flash 90

Zionist religious MKs think the IDF mishandled an incident in which religious cadets were dismissed from Officers' Course for missing a lesson because of the shacharit morning prayer.

The lesson was moved to an earlier time at the last moment, and therefore coincided with the regular time for the shacharit prayer. The soldiers – who are from the Gefen Battalion – prayed instead of attending the lesson.

MK Zevulun Orlev (Jewish Home) said that it was unacceptable that the IDF does not allow shacharit prayer at its proper time. "Only during an operational need or an emergency or during war, should the prayer give precedence to the operational need."

"It is too bad that all those involved – the commanders, the battalion rabbi and the combat soldiers – were not able to solve this problem, and instead turned it into a crisis."

Orlev blamed the IDF top command, too. "I call upon the Chief of Staff and the Head of Personnel Branch to change the atmosphere and create a more placating atmosphere that will allow religious and hareidi soldiers to serve in the IDF, in combat units too, while completely maintaining their religious lifestyle."

MK Yaakov Katz (Ketzaleh) of the National Union also protested the cadet's dismissal.  "The enlistment statistics that show that soon, most IDF officers and soldiers will wear kippot – are a fact," he said. "Desperate attempts to change the fact that almost 50% of infantry officers are religious. It will not be possible to keep the most high-quality sector in the state, the religious [Zionists] and hareidim, from flooding the IDF and being an example of delicateness, good soldierly qualities and professionalism."

Ketzaleh added: "The ongoing abuse of kippah-wearing soldiers stems from incitement and jealousy and does not represent the comradely spirit of the IDF. It will only make our youth, the cream of the nation, even tougher."