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Saturday, March 17, 2012

And the IDF wants to draft Haredim (ultra-Orthodox)?

As many of you know, last month, in one of retiring Chief Justice Beinish's 'gifts' to the country, the Supreme Court invalidated the Tal law, which had enshrined into the law the deferments that ultra-Orthodox soldiers receive to postpone their army service so long as they are learning Torah, as well as 'unequal' army service such as Hesder (literally 'arrangement') that allows religious soldiers to have a longer army service which includes time in yeshiva (and less time actually in the army).

The army, which in the past had no real interest in drafting ultra-Orthodox soldiers, has attempted for the last ten years or so to accommodate them (as demanded by the politicians), principally through the establishment of special units in which, with flexibility for actual times of war, the ultra-Orthodox (Haredi) soldiers are to be allowed to maintain their level of observance. These accommodations include things like extra time for prayers and Torah study, a higher level of Kashruth, strict Sabbath observance, and no women either on their bases or teaching them courses. Many of the soldiers in the Haredi units are soldiers from the national religious community who are attracted by the higher standards of observance in the Haredi units.

The Haredi community believes - almost unanimously - that the real reason behind the effort to draft Haredi men into the army is to pull them away from the Haredi way of life. This evening, there is stark evidence that belief is true.

This evening, I received a very disturbing letter from a friend who heads the organization whose logo is at the top of this post - an organization that advocates for religious soldiers in the army across the (Jewish) religious spectrum. My friend, Eliyahu Lax, also sent me two links. Unfortunately, both links and the letter are in Hebrew. One of the links is here and it does a good job of summarizing the letter (as of this writing, Arutz Sheva has not translated it into English). I have a copy of the letter in Hebrew, which I will add to this post if I get permission to do so. The bottom line is that at the Sirkin army base in the center of the country, religious IDF soldiers are being forced to desecrate the Sabbath for no operational purpose. And that's not all.

The soldiers have to seek permission from their commanding officer to go to the synagogue or their study hall during their free time, but they can go to a club or to smoke without such permission. The soldiers are being forced to patrol the camp (which is nowhere near a border area) on the Sabbath, but only if the religious soldiers happen to be there. There are televisions and plasma screens in the room, which are not supposed to be there in the Haredi units. Four soldiers in the unit have renounced religion.

My friend Eliyahu has written a letter to the head of the IDF personnel unit. He has publicized the letter, which is how Arutz Sheva has it and how I have it. It will be interesting to see how the IDF responds. I will be waiting (without much hope - she's not known as a friend of religious soldiers) to see if Israel Radio's military correspondent, Carmela Menashe, picks up this story. Last week, she ran a story about soldiers who were being abused by senior officers.

In case you're wondering why the army doesn't have a 100% draft rate....

By the way, the army denies that these things actually happened.


The letter (in Hebrew) is below:


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At 11:26 PM, Blogger Akiva said...

My son's in that unit. The details as described are pretty much accurate, if not worse.

At 8:04 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Here's another theory why this is happening. Leftists secularists regret that they allowed Hareidim into the army, for fear of their Jewishness.

To scare them away, threaten their ability to observe their Judaism. Presto! No religious Jews in the IDF any more. That'll make certain desperate short-sighted people very happy.


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