Daily Israel Report

Rabbi, Students: No Place for Zionists at Hareidi Rally

Yeshiva students, former IDF Chief Rabbi, urge religious-Zionists who are planning to attend hareidi rally to reconsider.
By Maayana Miskin
First Publish: 2/28/2014, 1:13 AM

Hareidi rally (archive)
Hareidi rally (archive)
Hezki Ezra

Students at religious-Zionist yeshivas have urged religious-Zionist rabbis who are planning to attend a massive hareidi protest against mandatory military enlistment to reconsider.

Hareidi leaders have called a rally in protest of the government’s decision to criminalize non-enlistment among hareidi yeshiva students, who have historically been allowed to defer military service.

Some religious-Zionist rabbis have said they will be at the rally. Rabbi Shlomo Aviner told Kol B’Rama radio that he would be there, saying, “Just like the nation needs an army – that’s obvious – the nation needs Torah… We can’t hurt one without hurting the other.”

Students warn: hareidi mob could be dangerous
A group of students wrote a letter urging the rabbis not to attend, and even warning that they could come to harm due to strong anti-Zionist sentiment among those present.

The letter, a copy of which reached Arutz Sheva, quoted several articles from hareidi news sources in which religious-Zionist rabbis were accused of spreading anti-Torah teachings, of “ruining everything,” and of being “wicked.”

“Even if the purpose of the prayer rally Sunday were a good one – please don’t go, because of the danger posed by the herd which is incited by its leaders,” they wrote.

Rabbi Ronsky: Zionists don't belong at anti-enlistment event
Rabbi Avichai Ronsky, the former Chief Rabbi of the IDF and head of the Itamar yeshiva, declared that religious-Zionist rabbis should avoid the rally for ideological reasons. Rabbi Ronsky is considered rabbinic advisor to Religious Affairs Minister MK Naftali Bennett and MK Ayelet Shaked (Jewish Home) who headed the Knesset draft law committee. The three had planned running for Knesset together on a separate list before joining the Jewish Home party.

“I really find it difficult to understand how there are rabbis, great Torah scholars, some of them my teachers, who are calling to participate [in the rally] and even plan to attend,” he said.

“Our moral understanding, our understanding of halakhah [Jewish law], is that men must enlist in the army. Even Torah scholars – maybe for a limited period of time, like in the hesder program… That’s our Jewish and moral understanding,” he declared.

It is clear that the planned hareidi rally will be a protest against enlisting in the IDF, and not merely a protest against the planned criminal sanctions, he said. “They call not to enlist in the army, even for those who aren’t learning [Torah]."

“It’s no secret that many don’t enlist even if they aren’t learning… The rabbis simply do not want them to enlist, because they want to keep their community separate from society,” he accused.

He noted that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has promised that no yeshiva students will be sent to jail.

“I call on our entire community not to take part in the protest, which will call on the hareidi community not to enlist in the army,” he concluded.