Rabbi Haim Druckman
Rabbi Haim Druckman Yoni Kempinski

Rabbi Haim Druckman, a senior figure in the religious Zionist community and the head of the Or Etzion yeshiva, slammed Defense Minister Avigdor Liberman for his decision to close the yeshiva.

"It's a disgrace, it's a terrible injustice. I thought that the rule of Mapai had already passed from the world," Rabbi Druckman said in a recording obtained by Channel 2 reporter Yair Shark.

Former Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon and IDF Chief of Staff Gadi Eisenkot had given the order to close the military preparatory programs as part of a larger effort to handle budgetary limitations.

Rabbi Druckman explained why he decided to criticize the decision now. "A year ago, the former defense minister called me and told me that it was decided to close the two non-religious military units in Haifa and the religious ones in Or Etzion. No matter what I thought about it, if the IDF decided to close both of them, I would have accepted the decree."

The rabbi went on to describe how he realized that the yeshiva would close. "And a few months ago, I heard that the [nonreligious] program in Haifa would be left open and only the religious program would be closed down," he said. "It's really amazing. It's injustice and discrimination for which I have no words, I'm ashamed to say what they said to me: in Haifa they pressed them, so they decided to leave that program open."

Rabbi Druckman added that he had worked in the past few months behind the scenes to prevent the move: "You know me that I often mention the positive aspects of our country, not the things that are shameful and terrible, and I hoped that things would work out.

"I thought that the prime minister's word would be sufficient to settle the matter quietly, and I met with the prime minister's bureau chief and with the cabinet secretary," the rabbi explained to his students. "I gave it in detail, weeks and weeks passed and there was no sound and no answer."