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Wednesday, January 06, 2010

Yeshivat Har Etzion speaks out

There has been a major controversy going in Israel over the IDF's expelling a yeshiva from the 'arrangement' (hesder) by which soldiers split their time between the army and yeshiva learning. I have mostly kept it out of this blog because I'm not sure how much interest the 70% of my readers who are overseas have in it, because there are a lot of nuances that are difficult to understand without a lot of background that you just don't have unless you have lived in Israel for a long time, and because most of the relevant material about it is Hebrew only. I now have some material in English on one aspect so I will mention that.

I received two emails during the night in my personal/business (i.e. non-blog) email account that had copies of letters in Hebrew sent by Yeshivat Har Etzion (known here as "the Gush") to its alumni, hundreds of whom serve in IDF reserve units. In the letters, the yeshiva heads say that they are opposed to 'demonstrations' or 'raising signs' during army service, and will discipline their own students (presumably not including graduates) who are involved in such occurrences. They also say that they hope to resolve any issues with the army over orders to 'evacuate' Jewish residents and towns in Judea and Samaria through the Hesder yeshiva organization, by mutual respect and with an eye to avoiding conflict.

YNet describes the letters here in English and the original Hebrew letters may be found here.

One of the Roshei Yeshiva, R. Yaakov Meidan, wrote a separate letter to the graduates. He says that he agrees with the entire letter written by the other Roshei Yeshiva except for one word. Curiously, only part of Rav Meidan's letter was included in the emails that went out last night, but the entire letter (in Hebrew) may be found at the second link above. Rav Meidan, who is described by YNet as "relatively extremist" (a description with which I disagree), refers to 'uprooting' residents and towns and specifically not to 'evacuation' which he deems too mild (some of you may recall that Israel Radio banned ads on the anniversary of the Gaza expulsion which referred to 'expulsion' rather than 'disengagement').

Rav Meidan also says in his letter that he will not tell any of his students (if they ask him) to participate in expelling Jews from their homes. He does say that it's okay to participate in the third circle, which has uses other than participating in any expulsion.

He says that the army should not be used to expel people from their homes - it's not their job.

He also raises a point that I have not seen in the media here at all. He contrasts the Defense Minister's harsh punishment to Rabbi Melamed's Har Bracha yeshiva (which has been expelled from hesder) with the Minister's lenient treatment of university courses attended by IDF officers at the IDF's expense at which the IDF is denigrated.

You can find a Google translation of the original letters here. But the translation is coarse, and I just don't have the time to do a full translation today. Perhaps if someone else has the time, they might consider cleaning it up and sending it to me.


At 9:17 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

Carl - civil disobedience of an illegal and immoral order is justified. An order to expel innocent people from their homes can no more be obeyed than can an order be obeyed that authorizes the murder of innocent people. It is the duty of every soldier to refuse to carry out such orders. An army ordered to oppress its own people has ceased to be an army.


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