Education Minister: IDF belongs to all of us, we mustn't harm it

Education Minister Bennett says he shouldn't have called Rabbi Eliyahu 'impertinent' for demanding IDF Chief of Staff Eizenkot step down.

Uzi Baruch,

Naftali Bennett
Naftali Bennett
Hillel Meir/ TPS

Education Minister Naftali Bennett (Jewish Home) spoke to Arutz Sheva about his comments criticizing Tzfat Chief Rabbi Shmnuel Eliyahu for insisting IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkot step down.

Calling on Religious Zionists to "unite," Bennett said he had made a mistake in calling Rabbi Eliyahu's demand "impertinent."

"We, Religious Zionists, cannot attack the army en masse," he said. "We are 'the flesh of its flesh' (a quote from Genesis 2:23), and we cannot attack the army. We must talk to each other, and we are having significant discussions with the IDF and must continue to do so."

According to Bennett, the IDF made significant changes in the past year in every area of importance to Religious Zionists. These changes included allowing religious commanders placed in coed units to have their placement re-examined before they begin their roles.

"Religious Zionism must not throw out the baby with the bathwater," he said. "We must not give the younger generation a lack of faith in its commanders."

Noting that in secular society, there is a fear that the Education Ministry pushes religion on children, Bennett said, "In the religious community, there are those who believe the IDF wants to 'secularize' our children, and the haredim fear that someone wants to harm them."

"We need to relax. No one wants to change someone else's identity. The IDF belongs to all of us, and all of us are forbidden to harm it. We are the IDF."

When asked if he had been correct in calling Rabbi Eliyahu "impertinent," Bennett said, "I used the wrong word against Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu. Just like I expect the rabbis to respect the IDF, I myself must respect the rabbis."

"I suggest we all engage in dialogue, lower the stress, everyone wants things to go well. The Education Ministry isn't perfect and the IDF isn't perfect. These are two huge systems, there are issues which need to be fixed, and that's exactly what we're doing."