Liberman: Israel’s military academies are religious ‘militias’

Some religious pre-military students “said clearly that they would act according to the rabbi’s directive” over a military command, said the former defense minister.

By World Israel News Staff 

MK Avigdor Liberman, a former defense minister whose resignation last November resulted in the April Knesset election and whose refusal to sign an agreement to join a new government after that vote has led to another parliamentary election scheduled for September 17, is now attacking religious students who serve in the military in addition to those who do not.

Liberman said that he did not agree to join a new governing coalition headed by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu following the April election because it would have promoted religious coercion, including the ability of Haredi religious yeshiva students to evade military service.

However, in an interview on Tuesday at a conference sponsored by the Interdisciplinary Center (IDC) in Herzliya, Liberman referred to religious pre-military academies as “militias,” complaining about the attitude of some of the students who he said were giving priority to interpretations of Jewish religious law over military commands.

“The religious pre-military academies have produced some of the courageous fighters,” acknowledged Liberman, adding that he hoped that these institutes would continue to operate.

“But what is happening today,” he told the conference, “is that the pre-military academies have turned into militias,” explaining that when he asked students which directive would they honor if they received an order from their commander but their rabbi said the opposite, “I was shocked that most of them took 35, 40 seconds to think about it.”

“Many of them said that ‘of course I would respect the military order,’ but some of them said clearly that they would act according to the rabbi’s directive,” the former defense minister added.

Liberman attacked Transportation Minister Bezalel Smotrich, accusing him of bearing responsibility for a “Greek tragedy” that has befallen the Religious Zionist movement. He previously condemned Smotrich for a statement that the Jewish State should be run by Torah law.

When the Knesset decided to hold another election in September after Liberman refused to join forces with Netanyahu, the prime minister accused Liberman of being a leftist by preventing the formation of a right-wing government. However, Liberman, who lives in Judea, countered that he wanted a right-wing government that respects Jewish tradition but is not run according to the dictates of the Jewish religion.