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Friday, November 29, 2013

The more the government tries to push Haredim into the army, the more the Haredim flee

A rabbi who haas worked for years on trying to integrate Haredim into the IDF warns that the more the government tries to force Haredim to enlist, the more the Haredim will resist.
Rabbi Avraham Brown’s former jobs include working to integrate hareidi men in the IDF and heading the Hesder yeshiva [Torah academy] network. He spoke to Arutz Sheva about the planned law to mandate hareidi-religious enlistment.
“This law will torpedo the enlistment of thousands of hareidi men in the upcoming years,” he warned. “[Even] hareidi men who aren’t learning in yeshiva and were planning to enlist” will not enlist if the law passes, he said.
“It’s a law that will hurt the economy, that will prevent thousands of hareidi men under the age of 26 from working legally. It will also hurt the Torah world, because they’re treating yeshivas like academic departments, like the number of students can be cut,” he argued.
The Shaked Committee (Equal Burden of Service Committee), which is discussing the various options regarding hareidi enlistment, has not even invited hareidi experts to come speak, he said. “They didn’t invite Rabbi Rabad, who established ‘Shachar Kachol’ in the air force, or me,” he related.
The two met privately with committee head MK Ayelet Shaked (Jewish Home), he revealed.
“We sat with her at home and explained that those who have dropped out and who aren’t learning in yeshivas could be enlisted, that there is a hareidi consensus there, but unfortunately they still have not discussed that proposal,” he said.
The depth of the mistake will soon come to light, he warned, “The enlistment law will lead to conflict, and it will hurt the army… There are enough [yeshiva] dropouts who could join technological units and enlist later. All this debate just put a stop to everything.”
The rabbi’s warning follows a similar warning from Rabbi Yoel Shwartz, who established the Netzach Yehuda (Nachal Hareidi) Brigade for hareidi-religious soldiers. Rabbi Shwartz warned that if plans to require hareidi men to enlist move forward, “nobody will enlist… Nobody will dare to enlist.”
Rabbi Avichai Rontzki, who was forced out as IDF chief rabbi because he distributed religious materials to soldiers and quoted Torah to them, also says that repealing the Tal Law, which set up a system for deferring enlistment for boys studying in yeshiva, was a mistake.
Former Chief Rabbi of the IDF and Rosh Yeshiva of the Itamar hesder yeshiva (Torah academy) program Rabbi Avihai Rontzki stated to Arutz Sheva Thursday that the canceling of the Tal Law and the government's decision to implement the Equal Burden law was a mistake from the very beginning. 
"This is already a situation that is ex post facto, there is no going back, because the legal process involved is complicated and the current government is pushing the issue," he stated.
"There was no reason to cancel the Tal Law, which enabled hundreds of religious soldiers to serve [of their own volition]. The whole process of eliminating the Tal Law, the involvement of Senior government officials in the hareidi draft, and the desire to make this a national mission was a mistake." 
The Tal Law allowed full-time Torah students to defer military service. Critics of the law were outraged at the fact that large sectors of the hareidi-religious community were using the edict to permanently dodge the draft and stay in yeshiva [Torah academies], causing a number of potential economic and sociological problems; the Law was eventually declared unconstitutional in 2012 by the High Court on grounds of promoting inequality. 
According to R' Rontzki, the current government does not have a clear understanding of the importance of Torah study for the Jewish people. "Thousands of people who learn Torah bring tremendous blessing to the Jewish people," he stated. "The problem is that the hareidi-religious community refuses to engage in the same national service that the rest of the country does, and it's an anathema to many."
Despite disagreeing with the law in principle, Rontzki emphasizes that Shaked is pushing to prevent the punishment for draft-dodgers from becoming a criminal offense. Instead, Shaked, following the Jewish Home party stance, supports economic sanctions on draft refusers.
Suffice it to say that the Haredi community is circling the wagons on this. There are horror stories floating around, mainly about a small group of boys who were summoned to the IDF during the first weeks after the Tal Law expired, and who signed enlistment papers without realizing what they were signing (since then, the boys have been told to give only 'name and identification number'). Those boys are now deemed AWOL, and the army has been aggressively searching their parents' homes in the middle of the night. I heard at least one story today of a boy who has been jailed.

Ironically, under the Tal Law, the boys were required to report to the IDF every six months where they were registered in yeshiva, as well as reporting whenever they transferred yeshivas. Today, the boys are no longer required to report, and the IDF is looking for needles in the haystack - hence the raids on the boys' homes. The boys are hiding out in their yeshivas and no one knows anymore who is where.

What a wasteful use of IDF resources....

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