Expulsion at Gush Katif in 2005
Expulsion at Gush Katif in 2005Israel news photo: Flash 90

Two hundred 12th graders from all parts of Israel, including urban centers, have written Defense Minister Ehud Barak that they want to serve in the army but will not accept orders to expel Jews from their homes.

The unprecedented declaration represents another slap in the face of the Defense Minister, whose policies prompted the Hesder yeshiva in Arad to announce on Wednesday it is pulling out of the Hesder program after he threw the Har Brachah yeshiva out of the Torah study army service program.

Defense Minister Barak has rejected as insufficient Hesder yeshiva Rabbi Eliezer Melamed’s signed statements opposing soldiers publicly protesting the expulsion policy. Barak also has insisted on using soldiers to help carry out police actions to expel Jews.

Under the title "Petition to the Security Services,” the 12th graders wrote, “We want very much to enlist in the IDF and fight for the defense of our Land of Israel. We consider the use of the army for political purposes and the war against Jews as a danger that can ruin the army, especially when it is involved in a grave sin against settling the Land.

“We declare that our faith in the Torah comes before any other law or order, and therefore any [army] order that is against the Torah will be refused. We will not participate in any expulsion of a hilltop community or Jewish community in the Land of Israel. That is the way we will preserve the true values and principles of the IDF."

Meir Teller of Haifa, one of the signatories, explained that “we are supposed to fight against enemies and not against citizens who are among our own people.” He noted that that the ”best soldiers” in the 2006 Second Lebanon War and 2009 Operation Cast Lead were residents of Judea and Samaria “and were not leftists from northern Tel Aviv.”

The student charged that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Barak are trying to turn the best soldiers into enemies and to use the army against them.

Another signatory is Hanan Liberzon of Kiryat Tivon, a suburb of Haifa. "Barak’s hypocrisy is outrageous,” he declared. “It is inconceivable that the army sends officers to learn in universities where lecturers and professors incite against the country and against serving in the army, and then Defense Minister Barak targets rabbis who dedicate their lives to educating according to the Torah and to serve in the best units in the IDF.”

The 12th graders’ letter coincides with growing opposition among National Religious rabbis to Barak’s actions against the Har Brachah yeshiva and to the continued use of soldiers to raid Jewish communities and expel their residents. Leading rabbis and educators have warned that the Defense Minister is risking the loss of National Religious students who comprise a large part of elite combat units.