IDF accused of unfairly targeting patriotic rabbi

Tzohar head 'shocked' by IDF order to not meet with Rabbi Eliezer Melamed. Asks why only him, not haredi rabbis, anti-IDF intellectuals?

Ido Ben-Porat ,

Hesder yeshiva students drafting into IDF
Hesder yeshiva students drafting into IDF
Yeshivot Hesder organization

Rabbi David Stav, the head of the rabbinical organization Tzohar, says that he is troubled by Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon's (Likud) instructions that the IDF not cooperate with Har Bracha Rabbi Eliezer Melamed.

"During these days I wish to embrace Rabbi Eliezer Melamed," wrote Rabbi Stav on his Facebook page. "Even though we don't always agree. Rabbi Melamed, whom I have known since we studied together at Yeshivat Merkaz Harav 40 years ago, is a great scholar and so he has the right and the obligation to express his opinion. Yes, even when someone in the military does not like them."

Rabbi Melamed was an outspoken critic of the 2005 Disengagement from Gaza and encouraged soldiers to disobey orders that went against their religious beliefs. In 2009, then-Defense Minister Ehud Barak ended the hesder program at the Har Bracha yeshiva, an order which lasted until Ya'alon permitted it to reopen in 2013.

More recently, he weighed in on the controversy over religious soldiers being forced to listen to women singing. The issue came to prominence in 2012, when about 100 yeshiva students signed a letter demanding exemptions from forced events that involve women singing, as it conflicts with their religious beliefs.

Rabbi Melamed encouraged his students to put off their enlistments until the IDF granted the request. At the same time, he strongly emphasized the importance of serving in the military and giving back to the country.

Rabbi Stav argued that the IDF is unreasonably targeting Rabbi Melamed, as it does not issue similar injunctions against the numerous haredi and left-wing figures who speak against the military.

"I have not heard the Defense Minister dare say such things about rabbis who incessantly preach against serving in the IDF. I have not heard the army ban meeting with haredi rabbis. I have not heard them ban meeting with intellectuals who speak against the IDF's actions."

He closed by asking, "Would they also ban IDF officers from meeting them? Or does the ban only affect a rabbi who educates his students to sacrifice their lives for the sake of the IDF and the state?"