(March 28, 2018 / JNS) Some 200 religious Zionist rabbis signed a letter expressing their concern over Israel Defense Forces’ policies they feel are not commensurate with Jewish values.
Among the issues are a controversial update to protocol further integrating women into combat units.
The rabbis expressed their opposition to the policy, which will require men and women living and operating in close quarters.
Signatories included Rabbi Tzvi Tau, Rabbi Dov Lior, Rabbi Haim Shteiner and Jerusalem Chief Rabbi Aryeh Stern, as well as municipal chief rabbis, yeshivah deans and teachers, and rabbis from an array of other institutions.
They stated that they are “seeking to warn that in recent times, our beloved army is advancing extremist liberal cultural perspectives which are coming at the expense of the central purpose of the IDF, helping Israel against the enemy and our hold on our holy land, and is harming the holiness of the camp and the unity of the people.”
They also decried the inclusion of outside pluralistic organizations in army educational programs and efforts that would make it harder for religious girls to avoid military service through participation in the national service program.
Military sources say the national service exemption policy is meant to keep non-religious women from abusing the exemption by claiming to be religious.
“Disagreement with activities that are forbidden by our Torah, and are also in opposition to all healthy, human logic of behavior within an army framework, will prevent the IDF from descending into an ethical and human nadir,” the rabbis wrote. “In light of this, we seek to support our students and all IDF soldiers wherever they are to stand with determination and self-sacrifice for their ethical, humanitarian and Jewish-legal obligations in everything to do with mixing of the sexes and the holiness of the camp, wherever they come upon a demand which is not legitimate and not ethical.”