The fallout of good intentions often amounts to what people call unintended consequences. In the case of the current ‘crisis’ facing the Charedi world in Israel, those unexpected consequences were more than predicable.
The government’s attempt to equalize the burden of military service in all segments of Israeli society – and qualifying financial aid to their schools based on the requirement of a minimal ‘core’ curriculum has generated one of the strongest push-backs in Israel’s history. The entire Charedi rabbinic leadership is vehemently opposed to it. In some cases the rhetoric coming out of the Charedi side borders on incitement. As do foreign mass rallies in support of Charedi resistance to these new proposals.
The backlash is coming in the form of attacking Charedi recruits. In fact this was one of Jonathan Rosenblum’s arguments against the government current attempt at forcing the issue. He said that Charedim had been quietly and increasingly enlisting in the IDF to no one’s particular attention… and that these new recruits were pretty much left alone in their respective Charedi communities. The government’s threat to subject everyone to the draft has caused the following reaction from the usual gang of suspects. From Ynet:
According to the data presented, since the Peri Committee began to take steps towards equality of burden, haredi soldiers have experienced increased isolation, violence and harassment. The harassment includes physical assault, spitting at synagogues, slashing of tires and vandalism.
Kol Hahschalos Kashos. All beginnings are hard, the sages tell us. One might call them birth pains. But just because birth is painful, does not mean we should be discouraging people from having babies. The fruits of giving birth are surely worth the pain involved. If that were not the case, women would stop having children and it would be the end of the human race.
The birth of the democratization of Israeli service to the military is surely worth the pain we now suffer. There should be no reduction in the resolve to complete this task.
That said, the physical and mental pain being hurled at Charedi recruits by the zealous Charedi youth acting upon the rhetoric they hear should not be left unchecked. They should be dealt with swiftly and judiciously by Israeli authorities.
As I have said in the past… These birth pains are generated – not by the government’s desire to equalize the burden, but by the rhetoric of some Charedi leaders, politicians and media in response to it. Those reactions are further exacerbated by foreign protests like the one sponsored by the Satmar Brothers in Manhattan a couple of weeks ago and the one held a few days ago in Brussels.
Adding fuel to that fire is when two feuding brothers unite in common cause and then mainstream Roshei yeshiva who generally reject their approach to Israel nonetheless participate with them in protest. This gives the ugly encounters these zealots have with Charedi recruits - if not legitimate cover – then at least sympathy for their motives.
The attitude among even moderate Charedi journalists does not appear to be changing. The rhetoric remains and there are no attempts to see the view of the other side. And the ‘other side’ in this debate are not only secular Jews, but observant ones.
Case in point from YWN:
The developments in recent months in Eretz Yisroel have left many of us in the American Torah community confused. In recent weeks, Mishpacha Magazine has made it a priority to conduct a dialogue within the American Torah community regarding these issues, giving the opportunity for people to voice their questions and get solid answers.
A pilot event was held in Lawrence, where a candid and compelling conversation equipped participants with facts, figures, perspectives and insights from those in the thick of the discussions.
This week, Mishpacha will be hosting two more such events- tonight (last night), at the home of Yitzchok and Devorie Fuchs in Flatbush at 8;00 pm, featuring Mishpacha’s publisher Eli Paley and respected columnist Reb Yonasan Rosenblum, moderated by Eytan Kobre. Tomorrow evening (tonight), Wednesday, these two panelists will be in the Catskills, in the Twin Oaks colony, at the home of Rav Aryeh Zev Ginzberg, who will offer divrei pesicha.
Dialogue with the American Torah Community? Really? From Rav Aryeh Zev Ginzberg? I’m sorry, this is not a dialogue. It is a presentation of the Charedi side of the issue without any attempt to present a dissenting view from even a religious perspective. This is not dialogue. It is indoctrination… presented as dialogue!
If they truly wanted dialogue, they would have someone like Dov Lipman there to answer some of their challenges… and correct some of distortions and even outright lies the right has been telling its public about the situation.
Like the ‘big one’ about how Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid party is out to destroy the Charedi world via the assimilationist tactic of army induction. They have either not read the party platform or conveniently ignore it so they can vilify Lapid, the 2 sincere Charedi members of his party, and anyone else who disagrees with them. From the Yesh Atid website:
Yesh Atid’s plan for “equal service for all,” not only aims to solve the problem in a systematic manner, but, in doing so, also takes into account the needs and sensibilities of the ultra-orthodox population . In fact, ultra-orthodox were involved in formulating the plan. The Yesh Atid plan states plainly and simply: For the next five years, open the doors for 18-year-old ultra-orthodox young men to go to work with no requirement to serve. During those five years the National Authority for Civilian Service will identify the differing needs throughout Israeli society and arrange to address those needs by harnessing those who will enter National Service after the initial five year period. Furthermore, during those five years, a payment plan will be established for combat soldiers who serve for a full three years.
During those five years, the army will develop programs to facilitate the service of much larger numbers of ultra-orthodox citizens to serve in the army, and national service models will be created to be specifically geared to the needs of the ultra-orthodox (and Arab)populations. These options will include serving in hospitals and homes for the elderly, enhancing the security of neighborhoods in conjunction with the police, assisting Magen David Adom/Hatzalah/ZAKA, and providing much-needed support in educational institutions with a focus on easing the burden of those engaged in special education.
So much for Yair Lapid’s nefarious agenda of assimilating Jews out of religious observance – or even their Charedi lifestyles. And yet the big lie continues. They use Lapid’s calls for integrating Charedim into society as proof that he is out to destroy Charedi values and replace them with secular Israeli values. There is nothing further from the truth than that accusation. When he says integrating – he means financial and social integration. Not an abandonment of Charedi values.
A challenge to the Charedi masses who so rarely get an opportunity to see both sides of an issue because of bans on non Charedi news media and isolationism: Go outside of your box …go outside the comfort zone of a one-sided Mishpacha sponsored event and seek some objective truths. You have nothing to lose but your chains.
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About the Author: Harry Maryles runs the blog "Emes Ve-Emunah" which focuses on current events and issues that effect the Jewish world in general and Orthodoxy in particular. It discuses Hashkafa and news events of the day - from a Centrist perspctive and a philosphy of Torah U'Mada. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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