Former Chief Rabbis Renew Call to Disobey Pullout Orders

Speaking at a Jerusalem convention, rabbi Shapira urges some 2,000 yeshiva students 'to act with daring and courage.'

The Rabbis' Union for the People and Land of Israel, headed by former chief rabbis Mordechai Eliyahu and Avraham Shapira, Thursday reiterated its call to security forces to refuse orders to evacuate settlements under the disengagement plan.

Speaking on Thursday in Jerusalem at a convention of some 2,000 yeshiva students from around the country, Shapira called for help in the anti-pullout campaign of the Gush Katif and northern West Bank residents. "We all have to support and maintain strong ties with the Katif and Samaria residents, and to act with daring and courage, without flinching," Shapira urged. "This plan goes against Jewish law and the Torah, and we must not be accomplices to a crime. ... We must put into practice the true way of the people of Israel, the way of the Torah."

Beit El Rabbi Zalman Melamed spoke of a meeting he attended with the head of the Israel Defense Forces' Central Command, Major General Yair Naveh: "I said to him, 'General, sir, you must refuse the order, just as you would refuse to desecrate the Sabbath if it wasn't necessary.' I said these same things to members of the Binyamin police. The Torah forbids it, and it is forbidden from a moral and security point of view, and all those policemen must refuse the order. Other rabbis and I have students in the army, and they are telling us that the secular ]soldiers[ in fact won't lend a hand to this corrupt deed."

To the applause of the audience, Melamed awarded a prize to Yehezkel Chernovsky, who served time in prison for campaigning in favor of disobeying military orders. "The head of the command who came to see me asked to prevent terrible things from happening," Melamed said. "I said to him: 'I can't promise you. We will talk and try to calm things down, but the pain is so terrible. You will be responsible for the outcome. This isn't a tear in the leg. Gush Katif is not some remote limb. The people of Gush Katif are the heart of the nation of Israel. It's a tear in the heart."

In a statement summing up the convention, the group of rabbis called on "all our brothers in the House of Israel not to be dragged into violence, neither physical not verbal of any kind, and neither against our brothers, the security forces, nor against our brothers, the settlers."