Former Chief Rabbi Eliyahu: No to Refusing Orders

Former Chief Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu stated that IDF soldiers and police must not refuse orders with regards to the Disengagement Plan.

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, | updated: 19:48

Rabbi Eliyahu is considered the highest Jewish legal authority in the national-religious camp and amidst the residents of Judea, Samaria, and Gaza. Speaking to Channel Two TV in an interview recorded several days ago and broadcast Thursday evening, Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu said:
"I told the soldiers and police [who asked me] You should approach there with tears. What can we do? We are soldiers who get orders, what can we do? Forgive us."

The interviewer asked the Rabbi:
"That means, honorable Rabbi, that from your words, I understand that you are first of all saying that there is no such thing as refusing orders."

Rabbi Eliyahu:

Channel Two:
"They must carry out the order."

Rabbi Eliyahu:
"Correct. But with tears, with pain, slowly, slowly."

Channel Two TV provided subtitles to Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu's words during the broadcast. However, Channel Two distorted one key word. In describing his answer to the soldiers, the Rabbi actually said, "You should approach [Hebrew: tig'shu] there with tears." But Channel Two mis-transcribed the Rabbi's words and displayed to the Israeli public: "You should expel [tig'rshu] there with tears." The difference between the two words in Hebrew is one letter "r."

The former Chief Rabbi stressed that he is fully confident that the Disengagement Plan will not be implemented.

Chief Rabbi of Tzfat Shmuel Eliyahu, the son of Rabbi Mordechai, clarified that his father is against adopting the terminology of "refusing orders." But, in reality, he says that the soldiers should go there and sit on the floor with the family and cry, as he later wrote in his own words." Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu explained that his father is walking on the fine line between "I won't" and "I can't." Rabbi Shmuel understands from his father's words that a soldier must not actually remove Jews from their home, but not openly refuse; "just sit and floor and say I can't... His point was simply against a rebellion, but for soldiers to say to their commanders 'We can not raise a hand to hit a Jewish resident; we are not able to raise a hand to break down homes and to strengthen murderers.'"

Rabbi Shmuel Zafrani, Rabbi Eliyahu's personal aide, clarified that Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu has not changed his position with regard to soldiers' obligation not to carry out orders to expel Jews from their homes. "Journalists can interpret his words however they understand them," he said.

"The opinion of the rabbi is clear and unequivocally against creating discord in the public and in the army. We are not refuseniks per se, but the rabbi says that soldiers who are assigned to carry out this crime should say they are unable to do so. If they are forced, the rabbi says that they should enter the homes, together with the residents slated for expulsion, sit with them and weep and not evacuate them."

Rabbi Zafrani continued: "The main thing, according to Rabbi Eliyahu, is that there is no concept of refusing an order in the IDF. His position is that there will not be an evacuation and therefore, in his opinion, this matter does not need to be dealt with at all right now. In this matter, the rabbi is not issuing a ruling whether to refuse or not refuse. If the matter arises, G-d forbid, then the rabbi will give his opinion."

Rabbi Mordecai Eliyahu also came out against road-blockings, unless there are alternate routes for ambulances and others engaged in fulfilling commandments to traverse during the demonstrations.