Renegade Hesder Rabbi Capitulates in Row With IDF

Rabbi Melamed agrees to denounce political demonstrations by Israeli soldiers in uniform.

A hesder yeshiva rabbi on Sunday has agreed to denounce political demonstrations by Israeli soldiers in uniform, after his comments to the contrary led the army to cut its ties with his seminary.

During a meeting with other hesder rabbis, Rabbi Eliezer Melamed, of the Har Bracha yeshiva, agreed to sign a statement clearly opposing the protests. The statement also expresses the rabbis' appreciation of the defense establishment, the IDF and its commanders.

The statement signifies Melamed's capitulation in the dispute with the army and Barak; he had earlier refused to sign such a statement because he said it would be forced upon him.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak last week ousted Melamed's yeshiva from its hesder arrangement with the army, in response to the rabbi's call for Israel Defense Forces soldiers to refuse orders to enforce a construction freeze in West Bank settlements.

On Thursday, rabbis and teachers from Hesder yeshivas, which offer Torah studies alongside military service, released a letter to students in which they reiterated their assertion that soldiers must refuse orders if they are commanded to evacuate settlements, arguing that Torah law is above the Israel Defense Forces.

The letter emphasized the importance of enlisting to the military, but instructs soldiers to adhere to Jewish law when it conflicts with orders handed down from superiors.