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October 30, 2014 / 6 Heshvan, 5775
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To Rally or Not, That is the Question

The heated debate in the settlements this Shabbat revolved around participating in the Haredi anti-draft rally planned for Sunday, or not.

Lipa Schmeltzer dressed up as an IDF soldier for a music video.

Lipa Schmeltzer dressed up as an IDF soldier for a music video.
Photo Credit: Mendy Hechtman/FLASH90

There were two blocks debating each other in many of the settlements this Shabbat, and both sides raised some very valid points.

On one side are the pro-rally settlers who plan to go join in the Haredi anti-draft protest.

Their positions are as follows:

1. Haredim are currently on target for the army’s annual draft expectations from the Haredi community. At this growth rate, they’ll definitely reach the army’s goals in 2017.

So why in the world is the government suddenly introducing criminal sanctions onto the Haredi community, when, despite the difficulties, they’re meeting their numbers?

2. If this were about all citizens sharing the burden, why are Lapid and friends ignoring the Arabs?

3. If this were really only about the draft, then why were Lapid and friends going after Hesder, until Bennett cut some sort of deal with him?

4. If we don’t stand with the Haredim now, when Lapid and friends go after the settlements (and Hesder), we won’t be able to count on the Haredim as allies.

5. If Lapid and friends succeed, in the next elections, they’ll be big enough to not need Bennett and the restrictions he’s placed on them, and then Hesder, the Settlements and the National-Religious community are really going to really be in trouble.

The pro-rally groups raises some very important points, that seem to indicate that this bill and the attacks on the Haredi community are more about populism, elections, hurting the Torah and the religious sector as a whole.

On the anti-Rally side, the following arguments were put forth:

1. Everyone should do the army, and its not fair to everyone else that the Haredim aren’t doing their share.

2. If the Haredi position was really only about Torah learning and how Torah learning protects the State and they’re sharing in the burden by learning – and not based on an anti-Zionist ideology, then why aren’t they at least saying the prayers for the State and IDF soldiers in their shuls.

Since they don’t, it proves this protest is not about being drafted, but rather not wanting to be a partner in the State of Israel itself and not caring for anyone else outside their community.

3. Lapid won’t be able to hurt the Hesder programs and the religious in the army, because we make up 50% of the combat units, so we don’t need the Haredim as allies for that.

4. The Dati-Leumi and Settler communities simply can’t count on the Haredim to stand by us. They didn’t stand with us during Gush Katif, and they only care about their own communities and whoever pays them enough to support their lifestyles. They don’t care about anyone else’s Torah community besides their own (see Gafni’s threats to destroy Hesder and the settlements).

We gain nothing by standing with them, and some people even said, they’re getting what they deserve.

The anti-Rally group also raises some extremely valid points – essentially the isolationist approach of the Haredi community has proven that Haredim are unreliable allies, and incapable of seeing themselves as part of the greater religious and Jewish community in Israel, and acting on that partnership, so why should we act for them, when we think they should be drafted anyway, just like we are.

What do I conclude from all this?

First of all, there’s no doubt the Haredi community has shot itself in the foot, and the Dati-Leumi community may very well follow in their footsteps.

Because the Haredim are still beating that dead horse and fighting battles that ended long ago between the Tziyoinim and the Dosim, they’ve backed themselves into a corner, and have made their natural allies – the Dati-Leumi community, wary, unsympathetic and even angry at them.

The Haredim have taken their isolationist ideology too far and are incapable of participating in the wider community in a healthy manner, which certainly makes it completely impossible to trust them in the political realm – unless you’re the one signing the check.

It’s about lip service.

If the Haredi community wants to see the Dati-Leumi community standing beside them, then they need to make changes in their lip service – their prayers and statements.

It’s not enough to say your learning protects Israel, when you refuse to say a prayer for the Jewish country you live in, or for the Jewish soldiers who die for you. Or when a Haredi soldier comes home, how he’s forced to hide his uniform so that his neighbors don’t bad mouth him or his family.

That change in lip service would show the Dati-Leumi community that the Haredi community has matured and is prepared to view its fellow Jewish communities as their brothers in Israel.

The Haredim need to openly say they will support Hesder and the Settlements (where Haredi communities live too, by the way), no matter what political pressure or incentives are placed in front of them – it can’t be that the only Torah communities and the only Yeshivas that Hareidim care about are their own.

On the other side, the Settlers and Dati-Leumi community needs to realize that Lapid and friends are the enemies of Torah life in Israel and of settlements. The Haredim are easy targets right now, but their recent slip of targeting Hesder proves it won’t quietly end with just Haredim.

The fact that Haredi draft goals are being met, and don’t require spurious criminal sanctions added onto the bill, indicate that this is a populist and dangerous attack, unconnected to the draft.

It doesn’t matter that, right now, we can’t count on the Haredim in the political realm. We need to trust that if we do the right thing here, the Haredim will mature and begin start acting as responsible and reliable allies, just as they’ve been quietly sending more and more young men to the army.

If they don’t act properly, the onus is on them – but letting Lapid win and take back all the progress that was made in expanding Haredi draft numbers – just so he’ll win more seats in the next election – that onus will be on us.

Both sides, Haredi and Dati-Leumi, have some serious thinking to do about who are real allies are and should be, and how we interact with one another.

I hope the right conclusions are reached before it is too late.

About the Author: JoeSettler blogs at The Muqata.blogspot.com and occasionally on his own blog at JoeSettler.blogspot.com.


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11 Responses to “To Rally or Not, That is the Question”

  1. Gina Abraham says:

    They should be drafted and contribute to the security of Israel

  2. Eduardo Mazo says:

    they both no authority either both squatters longing for the first.

  3. I can remember a time in the US when poor whites, and blacks (probably more) fought most of the wars particularly Viet Nam. But too many did not want to be there. How did that turn out? It’s not so simple.

  4. writenut says:

    Until Israel is a Rectified Torah State we need to defend it with might. We also need to elevate ourselves and the Land with chesed; loving-kindness as the Torah guides us.
    The efforts of every Jew counts.
    writenut-

  5. Ken Man says:

    Send them back to Eastern Europe if they refuse to participate,

  6. Ken Man says:

    Send them back to Eastern Europe if they refuse to participate,

  7. JoAnn Morris says:

    But these soldiers backed the U.S. Not so in Israel’s case.

  8. RABBI SHMUEL ELIYAHU EXPLAINS WHY HE IS ATTENDING THE RALLY
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    The following is my translation of a Hebrew article which appeared on the Srugim website, here.

    There are those who have asked why I and members of major Zionist yeshiva heads have made a call to participate in the rally calling for recruiting of Chareidi Torah scholars. Why should thousands of hesder yeshiva students participate in this rally? After all, we view military service as a great mitzva (commandment). Because of this great mitzva, we have served in the army and educated our students in this way. The movement to have the Chareidim participate in the labor market is a welcome and positive one, and according to Halacha (Jewish Law); so why are we joining the struggle of the Chareidim?

    Moreover, if in our opinion the participation in the wars of Israel is a mitzva; if in our opinion it is much more preferable for those who work, than those who receive charity; why then, are we participating in a rally against the new conscription law? After all, this bill is designed to have the Chareidim share in the work-place and in defending the country, which in itself is a great mitzva.

    There are several reasons for this. First is the reckless, inconsiderate way that Yesh Atid promulgated the matter of criminal sanctions. Upon the establishment of the current government, it was decided to go in the way of dialogue, of consensual agreement and not criminal measures. Parts of Chareidi society have already been drafted, other parts are working, and some are studying at academic institutions. This process can be encouraged and moved along by economic means.

    In contrast, there are those who want to re-educate the Chareidim. Unfortunately, the MKs of Yesh Atid have overcome the members of the Bayit HaYehudi, and the Shaked Committee has decided on criminal sanctions. For this alone, one should protest. One should empower those people who are working (on this) without hatred, without a trying to educate the Chareidim, or to impose a lifestyle (on them).

    Yair Lapid and his party's insistence to impose such a significant move upon the Chareidim, is a bit reminiscent of his father's hatred of the Chareidim and the religious. This is an attempt to bend the will of the Chareidim instead of discussion, negotiation. It reminds on of the story of the destruction of Gush Katif.

    Yair Lapid himself wrote in Yediot Acharonot that it was clear that the expulsion from Gush Katif would not bring peace. He only meant to break the will of the National Religious public, to show them that they were not the boss of the country. It’s more than a feeling that Yair Lapid is trying to do the same to the Chareidi public – trying to break it instead of talking with them. We must resist with all our might against the recklessness of Yair Lapid and his friends.

    The second reason is to honor the Torah world of the Chareidi community. These are people who fulfill the Mishna in Avot (6:4) literally, "(This is the way of Torah,) to eat bread with salt, drink water sparingly, sleep on the ground and live a life of hardship." Even if I disagree with them on some things I cannot ignore their devotion to Torah. About this, King David said in Psalms (119:63): "I am a friend to all who fear You."

    The third reason is pain. You cannot ignore the pain of hundreds of thousands of people whose livelihood was broken, following the severe cuts imposed Yair Lapid on the budgets for the Yeshivot. You cannot ignore the pain of families left without bread and diapers. Even if we do not agree with everything, we cannot ignore the pain. "I am with him in (his) trouble."

    I am deliberately not answering the question of why I am not taking revenge against those Chareidim who do not relate to the Torah world of national-religious with respect. Anyone with eyes in his head clearly knows that revenge and bearing grudge is the opposite of the path of Torah. It is also not effective. The arguments amongst us serve the Israeli left more than anything else. We need to increase unity, and in the end the respect and honor will come.

    Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu is the Chief Rabbi of Safed, and one of the Rabbis of Derech Emuna.

  9. It's not so simple to 'compel' a person whose mindset is against serving as a soldier, to be a good one ie. one you would want defending you and your loved ones. Lauds go to Nahal Hareidi units who are successfully studying Torah as well as doing their military service. Find some public service jobs for hareidim who 'refuse' to be soldiers, where they won't be responsible for protecting the lives of citizens! In the scheme of a whole lifetime, the 32-36 months plus sporadic miluim should not even come close to destroying a true scholar's dedication to Torah learning! How much less even would some behind the military lines public service do so?!

  10. Not the point. How well did they back the US? It’s not patriotic to say so, but a lot of these did only what they had to do and often not, were using drugs and stoned, trafficking, heavily involved in crime, running away to Thailand and elsewhere, committing atrocities, fragging their own officers. You’re not supposed to say that, but it’s true in more cases than anyone will admit. That loses wars and it did in Viet Nam. People who do not want to fight are a detriment to the effort. If you don’t believe in the mission, you’ve already lost. People like that lost the war in Viet Nam. The government did not cause the lose–however, they failed to sell it. Attacking what is most important to Hareidim is not selling loyalty to Israel but consolidating resistance and further alienating them. But some Hareidim will fight and distinguish themselves–because they want to fight. You see this complete difference? Punishing them until they are patriotic is absurd in order to create captive soldiers. They aren’t cowards, and they do not lack devotion to a cause. So why do they not believe in Israel and not devoted to it?

  11. Ronny Mol says:

    No one is thinking about the leftists who started this mess. First, all we had to do is go on Channel 2 or 10 and say we will go in the IDF but you MUST retire all women in the IDF. The feminists/leftists would go wild and nothing would get done. Simple. Some people can't see the trees from the forest. Next, I see a revolution in the IDF, as more religious soldiers come in, they can and will take over the country in a bloodless coup. First, secular people are not interested in serving, I mean the young ones. As a coup, end the supreme court. No non Jews in the Knesset. That will be enough to flame the leftists.

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