Education Minister: I shouldn't have called rabbi 'impertinent'

Education Minister Naftali Bennett apologizes for calling Tzfat's Rabbi Eliyahu 'impertinent,' says IDF is working to fix its issues.

Chana Roberts,

Naftali Bennett
Naftali Bennett
Hillel Meir, TPS

Education Minister Naftali Bennett apologized to Tzfat Chief Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu for calling his demand "impertinent."

Rabbi Eliyahu on Wednesday said IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eizenkot is responsible for the soldiers' lack motivation, and noted that, "it's natural to point to the head of the system as the one guilty in this matter."

Eizenkot, he said, "removed the military rabbinate information service that increased motivation, and replaced it with radical leftist organizations that decrease motivation." He also listed several other things which decrease soldiers' motivation and said that "in Israel we can't afford an army that is weakening."

"It's true that the army is strong, but you can't go into complacency mode, that's why I asked the Prime Minister, who is responsible, to weigh this issue ... It's time to say to the Chief of Staff, 'Thank you very much for your service. Make room for someone else.'"

In an interview Thursday morning with Reshet Bet, Bennett admitted that his attack on Rav Eliyahu had been too harsh.

"I apologize for saying it was 'impertinent.' That was inappropriate and I should not have used that word to describe a rabbi," Bennett said.

"However, I protest the statements against the IDF. We are all one nation. The IDF is fixing itself and improving how it deals with religious and haredi lifestyles."

On Wednesday, Bennett said he "completely rejects any calls not to enlist in the IDF, and the chutzpa in the demand to replace the Chief of Staff."

Later that day, he said he had "used the wrong word against Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu" but added that "just like I expect the rabbis to respect the IDF, I myself must respect the rabbis."