'Chief of Staff tries to reduce rabbis' influence'

Survey finds national-religious Israelis expect Jewish Home party to support Jewish identity in IDF.

Yedidya Ben-Or ,

Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkott
Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkott
IDF spokesman unit

The polling center Miskar, which specializes in surveying the national-religious sector, has published new data about the IDF's plan to transfer the "Jewish Identity" department from the military rabbinate to the manpower division.

Dr. Idan Liberman oversaw the study, which received 400 responses and has a 4.5 percent margin of error. Though it took place before IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkott decided to transfer the department, the survey show that the national-religious community largely supports Jewish Home and its ministers, particularly Naftali Bennett and Eli Ben-Dahan, in their handling of the issue.

Many in the military rabbinate and the wider religious public are suspicious of the plan to transfer the "Jewish Identity" department, out of a fear that it will weaken the rabbinate's impact on the military, and that the rabbinate's funding will be given over to the manpower division.

About 90 percent of respondents said, "The efforts to strengthen the IDF's Jewish identity and soldier's awareness through different means is important to me." Seventy-three percent stated that "the effort to limit the power of the 'Jewish Identity' department derives from, among others, a desire to curb the rabbis' influence on soldiers, and 75 percent agreed that "the 'Jewish Identity' department must remain under the military rabbinate's authority."

More than 70 percent emphasized that the involvement of Education Minister Naftali Bennett or Deputy Defense Minister Rabbi Eli Ben-Dahan would prevent the transfer. Seventy-five percent say that the IDF's character and identity are largely set by strengthening talks with former fighters and other lecturers who talk about the spirit of giving and the heritage of IDF soldiers. No fewer than 82 percent of those questioned emphasized that "the 'Jewish Identity' department has a positive influence on the spirit and identity of the IDF."