Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel (Jewish Home) commented this morning in an interview with journalist Kalman Levinskind on Israel Radio on the soldier beard crisis which came up again last week when 52 combat trainees were ordered to shave, after failing to obtain beard permits from the IDF when they drafted.
"Matters such as these are painful and infuriating," said the right-wing minister. "There is no place for them in the IDF, the army of the people of Israel, which was established after 2,000 years of exile."
According to Ariel, "I think that the Chief of Staff would do a lot of good if he were to review these instructions and commands again, especially in their implementation. Sometimes, they may be well intended, but between the intent and the execution, there are so many blunders."
As the interview progressed, Minister Ariel was asked about the IDF rule prohibiting bearded soldiers from participating in an official military parade.
Ariel admitted that he "has no knowledge of such an order, however, I think that if it were correct, then this is exactly one of the problems, and I think that this is our job [to fix it]. I will check it out today."
In response to last week's furor, the IDF issued a statement: "The command and policy of the IDF is that growing a beard is only permitted for someone who leads a religious lifestyle, or for a secular soldier for whom a beard was part of his lifestyle before his draft. This standing order is enforced in order to ensure discipline in the IDF's units. THe IDF has no intention of hurting the feelings or way of life of its soldiers, religious or secular alike. The commander of the engineering corps has ordered his soldiers not to shave until he can establish an investigation, led by himself, on Sunday."
Speaking to Arutz Sheva, a military officer added that "not all soldiers who asked for a beard permit lead religious lifestyles, and not all the secular [soldiers] live their lives with beards."