IDF Education Officer:
'Army education in the hands of the Rabbinate? Absurd.'

New Chief Education Officer believes Military Rabbinate should not deal with general education of soldiers, only 'religious' matters.

Avishai Greentzeig ,

Tzvika Fairaizen (left)
Tzvika Fairaizen (left)
IDF Spokesperson

"If you told someone in the State of Israel that education was in the hands of the Ministry of Religious Affairs, he would look at you as if you had come from the moon. Why should education be in the hands of the Ministry of Religions rather than the Education Ministry? Only in the IDF is education via the Ministry of Religions (the Military Rabbinate, ed.) Not only does that Ministry provide religious education, it educates the whole IDF. It sounds absurd. "

These remarks, published for the first time on Arutz Sheva, were said by incoming Chief Education Officer, Brigadier General Tzvika Fairaizen, during a talk in the community of Karnei Shomron on the night of the Hoshana Rabbah holiday.

It is a rare public statement by the new Chief Education Officer, who took office in July this year after he was elected before the civil forum more than a year ago. The decision to appoint Brigadier General Fairaizen, an officer in a knitted kippa who served in a number of senior positions in the air force, was announced in the midst of tension between the military rabbinate and the Education Corps after the Jewish Identity branch was transferred out of the hands of the military rabbinate. The choice of Fairaizen was interpreted as a conciliatory step by the Chief of Staff meant to calm unrest in the Religious Zionist public, against the backdrop of various measures that created a sense of erosion in the IDF's consideration of the needs of religious soldiers and commanders.

The appointment was indeed welcomed by Religious Zionism. Rabbi Ze'ev Karov, who taught Fairaizen at the hesder yeshiva in Karnei Shomron before joining the IDF and is still in contact with him. He welcomed the decision in an interview with Arutz Sheva, assuming that the choice of a religious officer who does not hide his faith is a message from the Chief of Staff to stop the infighting: "Enough with the wars, and it is enough to see two bodies here (the Military Rabbinate and the Education Corps - ed.) who seem to be fighting each other."

The statements made by Brigadier General Fairaizen in Karnei Shomron provide an interesting insight into his perception of the IDF's place within the Israeli governmental system, the role of the Education Corps, and the role of the national-religious public within the IDF. They can shed light on where he intends to lead the Education Corps and his future relations with IDF units in general and with the Military Rabbinate in particular.