Daily Israel Report

IDF Yeshiva Leader Demands: 'Cancel Enlistment Law'

Former chairman of Hesder Yeshivas Association calls on Supreme Court to cancel; 'no hareidim enlisting anymore.'
By Benny Toker, Ari Yashar
First Publish: 6/27/2014, 2:22 PM

Soldier and hareidi man (illustration)
Soldier and hareidi man (illustration)
Flash90

Representatives of the IDF's Human Resources branch spoke before the Knesset committee that is tracking implementation of the Enlistment Law this week, acknowledging there has been a significant drop in hareidi IDF enlistment due to the law.

The controversial law, passed in mid-March to mandate hareidi enlistment, had the reverse effect, with the IDF admitting it caused a 30% drop in hareidi enlistment that month.

Rabbi Avraham Baron, former Chairman for 25 years of the Hesder Yeshivas Association, spoke to Arutz Sheva about the impacts of the law. It should be noted that hesder yeshivas combine military service and Torah study, usually for a period of four to six years.

The rabbi expressed his hopes that the Supreme Court would cancel the new Enlistment Law.

"I pray with all my heart that the Supreme Court will invalidate this law, because if not, we won't see even a single hareidi enlist. The atmosphere of 'anti' (among hareidim) will continue, and there will be a social and financial crisis that will enlarge the schism in the nation, and harm the state of Israel's potential to blossom," assessed the hesder program leader.

Rabbi Baron explained that as long as the hareidi rabbis do not call for IDF enlistment, it simply won't happen, regardless of any laws the state may pass.

"This law is really a dispute, the (hareidi) rabbis have no faith in the army today, and it's a fact that no hareidim are enlisting," remarked the rabbi.

The hesder rabbi continued "in my period...there were thousands of hareidim (in the IDF), then the rabbis had faith in the system, but they took their steps, and since then it all has started to deteriorate."

"If there won't be a clear call in the law saying whoever can sit and study Torah should study, the rabbis won't cooperate," stated Rabbi Baron. "We need to create industrial peace for the rabbis, to create attractive paths for hareidim to return the thousands of hareidim that were in the army."

Rabbi Baron concluded by warning the law poses a threat to the religious Zionist hesder yeshivas as well, which he did not elaborate on.

"I suggest to every dean of our yeshivas to read the law carefully, and if they want to they are invited to contact me," said the rabbi.

The Enlistment Law was a source of friction in the Jewish Home party, which led efforts to pass the law. MK Yoni Chetboun was the only MK of the party to break party discipline and vote against it, warning that it would "split apart Israeli society."

For his stance, Jewish Home Chairman Naftali Bennett punished Chetboun by removing him from the Committee for Foreign Affairs and Security for the entire summer session, in addition to barring him from submitting laws during the first six weeks of the following session.

MK Motti Yogev of Jewish Home likewise said he "almost" voted against the law. He warned the law harms "the enlistment of hareidim to the IDF, harms other values dear to us in the Jewish Home, and will demand of us an internal and external systemic reorganization."

The law set off a string of mass hareidi protests, including a rally in Jerusalem in March that attracted hundreds of thousands of participants.