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Wednesday, January 04, 2012

If you rub it in their face, they just won't enlist

The rabbi who heads up a highly successful program for recruiting Haredim into the IDF has announced that he is resigning a day after the IDF Chief of Staff said that male soldiers could not be excused on religious grounds from listening to female soldiers sing.
In a letter he sent to IDF Chief of Staff Benny Gantz and to the soldiers in the program, Rabbi Ravad said the reason for his decision to leave the project is the integration of women in it.

Soldiers who received the letter said that Rabbi Ravad made a series of arguments against those who are trying to achieve the cancellation of the Shachar program by integrating women instructors into it despite it being supposed to be an all-male project.

“When the Shachar project was established I was a full partner in writing its operating rules,” Rabbi Ravad wrote in the letter. “What guided me in doing so was to allow hareidim who came into the army to continue to maintain their hareidi-religious lifestyle. In recent months it was decided to open the rules for review and reconsideration. I was a part of these discussions and insisted that what had been agreed on should be kept. In the latest draft of the new rules, however, I saw that clauses that were designed to preserve the piety of the soldiers had been omitted, and saw that a section that permits activity that might harm piety was added.”

He added, “True, these things are not yet finalized and I was assured they would be discussed again, but under the current situation I do not see myself as part of the program as a rabbi and consultant.”

“I hope that those responsible will make decisions that will shape the program so that it allows a hareidi person to join Shachar,” concluded Rabbi Ravad.

The Shachar program is a joint initiative of the IDF and JDC-Israel. It offers technological training and service in the Air Force and Technology Branch.

The program saw a sharp rise in popularity in the three years since it began: from 40 hareidi conscripts in 2007, to 200 the next year, to 400 in 2009.
If in fact there are going to be women in the program, you can bet that there will be 0 Haredi conscripts in 2012.

Meanwhile, the IDF violated the terms of its other Haredi program - the Nachal Haredi program - by requiring soldiers in the all-male program to study with women.
Hareidi soldiers of the Netzach Yehuda Brigade were ordered to participate in a lecture on safety precautions with IDF servicewomen, and were also ordered to clean the ladies’ room, despite regulations for strictly segregated conditions. The officer in charge responded to the complaint of the Hareidi soldiers “I will not tolerate discrimination against women.”
Within minutes we were told that the IDF would 'renew' the regulations relating to this unit.
The IDF spokesman responded to the orders given to Haredi soldiers to participate in a lecture with servicewomen and to clean the ladies’ room. “In light of the soldiers' complaint, the issue has been investigated, and the regulations vis-à-vis hareidi soldiers have been refreshed and reiterated. The mistake will not be repeated in the future.”
The army and the government have to decide which is more important to them - having Haredim serve in the army and then being able to legally work, or trying to make the Haredim who do serve be like everyone else. Until the army set up the Nachal Haredi several years ago, almost no Haredim went to the army. Since it was set up, many more Haredim went to the army than previously, because they were guaranteed service conditions that allowed them to maintain their lifestyle: Male-only units (there wasn't a woman on the IDF base when the unit first opened), more time for prayers than other Orthodox soldiers are given, and ultra-Orthodox (Mehadrin) Kashruth certification for the food (I have friends who - before there was Nachal Haredi - used to bring all their own food when they did their reserve duty). If the IDF now retracts those conditions, not only will people stop signing up, but in the event that the conditions are ever re-instituted, it will be much harder to get them to trust the IDF and sign up again.

'In-you-face' behavior usually begets more of the same.

If all the Haredim decide not to sign up for the army (and the rabbis have silently acquiesced to Nachal Haredi as described above - even though none of them will come out and say it, until now none of them has actively opposed it), there aren't enough jail cells in this country to hold all the draft dodgers.

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At 5:18 PM, Blogger Red Tulips said...

Here's the problem. It is offensive to tell women that they have to be relegated to seperate and unequal in order for Haredi men to join the IDF. And that is at the heart of it. First comes the requirement that females cannot sing at official events. Then comes the requirement that females cannot lead or teach religious soldiers. Next there will be a requirement for women to not be in combat.

And to be blunt, secular people do not respect this ideology of the Haredim, because on the face of it, it is not respectable. I do not believe it is respectable to tell women that if they sing, they can drive men into a lustful attack, and they will not be able to control themselves. It is not respectable to tell men that they cannot learn from a woman, when the workplace is filled with women, and Golda Meir even was Prime Minister of Israel. (!)

This belief bears a startling resemblance to the attitudes that Islamic radicals have towards women. It all comes from the same place. The famous "catmeat" Grand Sheikh of Australia, Sheikh Hillali, said it best. "Men are like cats, and an uncovered woman is like uncovered meat. You cannot blame the cat for eating the uncovered meat." Missing from Islamic radicals and Haredim is an onus upon men to keep it in their pants and control themselves.

All this focus is always on the woman to cover up, the woman to not sing, and the woman to not teach. Meanwhile, there is no concern whatsoever about men singing, teaching, and going about their business. It is misogynistic and bizarre, particularly since homosexuality does exist, and nothing in this ideology protects men from the sexy wiles of other men. If you think homosexuality does not exist in the Yeshiva, I can send you a bevvy of articles that says otherwise.

I am sorry if I offended you here, but I have very strongly held beliefs about "kol Isha" and the mishegas going on in Beit Shemesh.

At the end of the day, Haredim have to change if Israel is to continue to thrive as a country. It is impossible for seculars to continue to work hard and long hours to pay for the welfare of Haredim to sit on their butts all day, particularly when the numbers of Haredim keep rising. Yes, there is the Nachal Haredi unit, but it is still the small exception in the culture of Haredim.

And if seculars are asked to bend to the whims of Haredim (and relegate women to second class status) in order for the army to allow male Haredim to join, then where does this end? No one used to care if women sang at an IDF event, and now this has become a big deal. At what point do these demands stop? I don't see these Haredi demands ending anytime soon, until and unless women are basically excised from the IDF.

To conclude, the question is who has to change to allow the IDF (and the State of Israel) to function. I believe the Haredim have to change, not the seculars.

At 7:00 PM, Blogger Daniel said...

My solution!

Have Dana International sing!

At 7:03 PM, Blogger Daniel said...

My solution!

Have Dana International sing!

At 12:27 AM, Blogger Carl in Jerusalem said...

Red Tulips,

I don't know if it's worth arguing with you on this one because you either won't listen or won't get it. But quite simply, if they have to serve with women or not serve in the IDF, the Haredim won't serve, and all the progress of the past decade in getting them to serve will be undone. If they have to listen to women sing or leave the army, they will leave the army.

YOU may not think that it's 'respectable' to tell women that they cannot sing in front of men, but that is God's law, and as between God's law and the IDF, for the Charedim (including me), God's law wins every time. Women singing in the IDF was not an issue in the past because there were few Charedim in the IDF and at one time even the National Religious hesder boys were in segregated units. Oh by the way - it wasn't Charedim who walked out on the women singing a couple of months ago. It was Hesder boys in an officers' course.

They're not going to change - they (we) haven't in 3,000 years. And it's what has kept the Jewish people alive through all the exiles. The law on that is quite simple: To avoid violating a negative commandment you must give up all your worldly possessions. So yes, if they have to, every last one of them will go to jail (and set up yeshivas there).

The last time I checked, women singing wasn't a military necessity, but having someone to guard the base and to go to war with Hezbullah is a military necessity. So take your pick.

And before you jump to write off the fastest growing sector of Israeli society, look at what Caroline Glick had to say about them earlier this week.


At 1:40 AM, Blogger rickismom said...

Red tulips, there are PLENTY of places for women to serve in the army outside of the chareidi units.
And, by the way, almost ALL chareidim deplore what has been happening in Beit Shemesh.

At 6:51 PM, Blogger Red Tulips said...

I don't know if this comment will be read, but I would like to say that I actually spoke to a number of rabbis on this issue and I am convinced that it is not "God's law" for women to be relegated to second class status. It is human law, specifically, human males who were rabbis, who decided to follow one set of human opinions, versus another. It's that simple. There are numerous rabbinic opinions that give plenty of leniency concerning kol isha, but they are ignored. You can google this yourself and read all sorts of competing perspectives.

Thus, a choice was made by the Orthodox, including by you, Carl. You and others have made the decision to follow one set of human opinions versus another set of human opinions. Hashem did not come down from en high and dictate that women may not sing in front of men.

I don't think it's right or fair to bring Hashem into this, because Hashem has nothing to do with this.


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