Knesset: Calls to Close Yeshivas

Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee grills hesder yeshivas representative over rabbis' alleged encouragement of conscientious objection in IDF.

Gil Ronen , | updated: 11:03 AM

Rabbi Stav in Knesset debate
Rabbi Stav in Knesset debate
Israel news photo: Knesset channel

A heated debate took place Wednesday morning in the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on recent acts of conscientious objection by soldiers who refuse to expel Jews from their homes in Judea and Samaria.

The head of the IDF's Personnel Branch, Maj-.Gen. Avi Zamir, said that he met with the rabbinical council of the hesder yeshivas after the protest at the Kotel (Western Wall) swearing-in ceremony, and demanded that they talk to Rabbi Eliezer Melamed, head of Har Beracha yeshiva, and rethink his educational path.     

He said that after the Kotel incident, he read a book by Rabbi Melamed "from which it was clear that the rabbi calls for refusal of any order to expel Jews.”

MK Amir Peretz (Labor) said that Rabbi Melamed and Rabbi Elyakim Levanon, who heads the Elon Moreh hesder yeshiva, should no longer be allowed to head these institutions.

The committee gave Rabbi David Stav, rabbi of the city of Shoham, the right to respond to the accusations, and he replied that taking away the rabbis' right to lead the yeshivas would be an undemocratic act because rabbis cannot be prevented from expressing their opinions before students. He also said that he has yet to hear of a call to take away the licenses of academic institutes like the Sapir Academy and others, where IDF soldiers participate in study days and where lecturers have been known to incite against the IDF.

MK Yuli Tamir (Labor) answered him by arguing that while IDF soldiers who attend these academic institutions do so at a late stage in their service, the soldiers go to the hesder yeshivas at an early stage, in which they are educated to combine military service and learning.

Rabbi Stav predicted that a decision to take away the licenses of the Har Beracha and Elon Moreh yeshivas would lead to an opposite result to the one the IDF wants, because it would cause all of the hesder rabbis, including the moderate ones, to stand behind Rabbis Melamed and Levanon.