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September 30, 2014 / 6 Tishri, 5775
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Posts Tagged ‘Tal Law’

IDF: Haredi Yeshiva Deans Cheat, Covering for No-Show Students

Tuesday, August 6th, 2013

Yesterday, during an in-camera session of the Knesset committee preparing the “equal burden” bill for its second reading before the plenum, the IDF representative at the meeting, Brigadier-Gen. Gadi Agmon, launched a vehement attack on the deans of Haredi yeshivas, accusing them of outright lying and covering up for students who are registered but do not show up for classes, Ma’ariv reported.

The legal arrangement between Israeli governments and Haredi yeshivas over the years, known as the “Torato umnuto” (his Torah study is his occupation) deal, recognized that young men whose only engagement was Torah scholarship would be absolved from enlisting in the army so long as they continue their studies. To be fair, the IDF has been giving similar deals to young men engaged in secular studies, but in many cases those deals involved attending students technical schools who went on to serve a longer stint, often using the skills they had learned.

The “Torato Umnuto” soon became a blanket covering the vast majority of Haredi young men, whether they were actually studying or not. It also turned out to be a two-edged sword, as those young men were barred from legal employment because of their military status, and so many were condemned to a life of dead-end jobs paid for illegaly.

This was the main purpose of the Tal Committee Law, which, back in 2002, was attempting to interject fairness and honesty into a seriously broken system. Many in the Haredi world have pointed to the steady stream of recruits, as well as the steadily rising numbers of Haredim both in the job market and in academic institutions as signs that the Tal law was working. But the Supreme Court, ever eager to equalize the country, was dissatisfied with what it considered lukewarm results and eventually killed the bill in the winter of 2012.

The new law, hammered out by the (Yesh Atid MK and Minister) Jacob Perry committee over the past six months, is a more sweeping version of the Tal law, calling for larger numbers of Haredi recruits in a shorter period of time. But while on paper the numbers might please the high court—in the Haredi world the Perry effort (which they usually pin on Jewish Home leader Naftali Bennett’s back) is tantamount to at least the Russian Czar’s conscription of Jews, if not an outright holocaust.

This is the background of Brigadier-Gen. Agmon’s assault on the yeshiva deans, whom he sees as saboteurs of all the arrangements ever reached between the Zionist establishment and the Haredim, whether the Haredi representative were inside or outside the coalition government.

“It is inconceivable that deans of yeshivas would lie knowingly and sign for their students as if they’re present full time in the yeshivas, while in reality they’re not there,” Agmon, who serves as head of the Planning and Military Personnel Dept. in the IDF. “There are thousands who don’t study in the yeshivas [while stating that they are], but we don’t have the apparatus to enable us to identify them and enforce their enlistment,” he added.

Agmon’s appearance marked a distinct change in the IDF’s approach to the new draft legislation being cobbled in committee, this time headed by Jewish Home MK Ayelet Shaked. Until yesterday, the army stayed away from the discussion, essentially committing to carry out whatever the political echelon would decide. But the gloves were taken off yesterday, and all the spades were called out by the general.

MK Shaked decided to keep the session closed to the media, most likely to enable the Haredi committee members to speak frankly, away from their own newspapers which have been frothing at the mouth over the new bill for six months now. According to Ma’ariv, MK Moshe Gafni (UTJ) and MK Ariel Atias (Shas) both agreed that a yeshiva boy who comes of age and is not attending classes should be drafted. Gafni went as far as to say that, should it be needed, those students should go to jail if they refuse to serve.

The problem is that that, too, is part of the Haredi parties’ kabuki theater, whereby they talk a good line, but when it comes to anyone actually encouraging those young men to inject a measure of honesty into their lives and go serve in the army – everybody is collaborating to keep them in the black garb, hat and all.

Rabbis! Lead the Way in Battle!

Tuesday, January 29th, 2013

That’s right. The time has returned for Rabbis to lead the way in battle. That’s the way it was in the past and that’s how it should be today. Who’s better for the job – some bleeding-heart leftist commander who has too much compassion on the enemy and puts his Jewish soldiers in danger? The Rabbis know the nature of the Amalekites of our time, and understand that their evil darkness must be erased from the Earth, in order for the light of God to shine, as King David vowed, “I will pursue my enemies and come upon them, and not turn back until they are destroyed.”

We met the Amalekites in the Torah reading on Shabbat. As the newborn Nation of Israel starts its journey across the desert, Amalek attacks us out of pure hatred alone, not wanting the light of Israel to brighten the world. Moshe orders his top Torah student, Joshua, to lead the Jews into battle. Not only is Joshua the Torah genius of his generation, a round-the-clock student of Torah in Moshe’s tent, he is infused with a spirit of bravery and strength to defend the honor of the Hashem and his chosen Nation, Israel. Moshe stands on a peak overlooking the battleground and raises his hands toward the sky to remind the Israeli “Hesder” warriors to trust in Hashem, but in the midst of the fight, his arms become heavy, and Aharon and Hur must support them and keep them aloft.

Why did his hands become heavy? In punishment, as Rashi explains: “Because he was slothful in the commandment (of waging war himself) and he appointed another in his stead, so his hands became heavy.”

That’s right, my friends! Moshe Rabenu, the greatest Torah scholar of all time, the Chief Rabbi of Israel, was punished for not leading the very first Israel Defense Force battalion to war against the enemies of God!

I have more news for you, my good friends. Among the commandments of the Torah, there is a commandment to go to war against the enemies of Israel and Hashem, to defend Jewish life, and to conquer the Land of Israel and keep it under Israeli sovereignty. Faced with a war of this nature, called “Milchemet Mitzvah,” everyone goes forth to battle, including a groom from under the wedding canopy. Not only are Torah students and Rabbis included in this mitzvah, it was the great Torah giants of past, Moshe, Joshua, King David, and Rabbi Akiva, who led the way, as examples to everyone else.

Today, the Israel Defense Force is engaged in a Milchemet Mitzvah, in both of its aspects – protecting Jewish life from enemies who seek our destruction, and maintaining Israeli sovereignty over Eretz Yisrael. True, during intervals in the fight, everyone who isn’t needed at the front, goes back to learning Torah day and night, but when the battle is raging, everyone enlists. There are no exemptions.

With the formation of a new government in Israel frantically underway, political parties calling for everyone to share equally in the military burden has become the key issue. The time has come to cast off the distorted understanding of Judaism which pictures Talmidei Chachamin as weak and scrawny figures, bent over their Talmudic tomes, engaged only in spiritual pursuits, detached from their bodies and the world around them. This was appropriate during the exile in foreign lands when we were at the mercy of the goyim, without any national structure of our own, without our own Holy Land to defend, and without any arms to fight against our enemies. Today, all that has changed. With the return to our Land, the Milchemet Mitzvah of the Torah has returned in full force. Everyone is obligated to share in the battle!

Yes, the Israeli army must be made glatt kosher to meet the needs of religious soldiers. Yes, if the army can do without them, then deferrals must be granted to allow top Torah students to continue uninterrupted with their learning for six or eight years before they are drafted, because that is in the supreme defense of the Nation too. The Hesder yeshivot have proven that Torah scholars can be strong in learning and strong in battle. The Rabbis of the religious Zionist community serve in the army; why shouldn’t Haredi Rabbis also be brave examples for their students, just like Moshe, and Joshua, and King David, and lead the way in eradicating the enemies of who rise up against Israel – for the sake and betterment of humanity – that the light of true compassion and justice can shine in the world, through the annihilation of the evildoers who seek to prevent the word of God from being established on Earth.

Rabbis! Lead the way!

Haredi Rabbis Decided: Yeshiva Students May Go to Recruitment Centers, But ‘Must Not Sign Anything’

Tuesday, August 14th, 2012

Against the background of the expiration on August 1 of the Tal Law, which attempted to manage Haredi recruitment, the Moetzes Gdolei HaTorah (Assembly of Torah Sages), the supreme rabbinical policy-making council of several Haredi organizations in Israel convened Monday night in Bnei Brak at the home of leader of the Lithuanian sector, Rav Steinman, to solidify the policy of military conscription, Maariv reports.

Members of the assembly heard an explicit review of the political negotiations surrounding the issue from MKs Moshe Gafny and Uri Maklev.

In a press release following the meeting, the Assembly announced “The Moetzet Gedolei HaTorah is extremely disturbed and frightened and in immense distress over the wave of incitements sweeping the people of Israel against Haredim and especially against Torah learners on whose merit the world stands.”

“The precious yeshiva boys are learning day and night, and these people are trying to ruin their standing with threats to disturb their learning,” the release concluded.

In a personal message to Prime Minister Netanyahu, the assembly made “a special plea to the heads of the government not to change anything in the rules concerning Torah learners here in the Land of Israel.”

The Rabbis also decided in regard to yeshiva boys whose cases are not yet settled with the military authorities that “The Moatza instructs the Rosh Yeshivas to instruct their students who are called up not to sign any document whatsoever which could commit them in any way to enroll in military service.”

Barak Orders Haredi Conscription

Wednesday, August 1st, 2012

Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak ordered the Israeli Defense Forces to draft Haredi men as it does other Jewish Israelis.

The order came as the Tal Law, which allowed many Haredi men to defer army service, expired on Wednesday. Israel’s Supreme Court overturned the law in February. Israeli law mandates that Jewish Israelis enter the army at age 18. Some Israelis legally defer army service for a year or more to study and prepare for the army.

Israeli Arabs are not required to serve in the army.

Since the Tal Law was overturned, the debate over Israel’s mandatory conscription has been at the center of the country’s political discourse. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu established a unity government in May with the center-left Kadima, the Knesset’s largest party, to draft new legislation on mandatory service that would address haredi and Arab youth, but Kadima quit the coalition in July after failing to reach an agreement with Netanyahu.

PM Rallies Likud MKs to Find Haredi Army Service Solution

Sunday, July 8th, 2012

As the deadline for the renewal of the Tal Law approaches and tens of thousands of people rallied to demand that all citizens of Israel perform national service, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu convened a meeting of the Likud Knesset faction to discuss ways to include Hareidim in national and military service.  With his party in agreement, the prime minister is on his way to drafting new legislation.

The discussion comes less than a week after the prime minister suddenly disbanded the Plesner committee, a body he established due to the impending time lapse of the Tal Law to advise him on integrating Hareidi Jews into army and national service programs which are mandatory for the rest of Israeli society.

On Saturday night, 35,000 – 50,000 people joined a “Camp Suckers” demonstration to protest what they perceive to be as an unequal application of Israel’s mandatory draft.  Due to the Tal law, which was passed in July 2002, Hareidi Jews can opt out of army service if they are enrolled in yeshiva.  Participants included former Shin Bet Chief Yuval Diskin, former army chief Gabi Ashkenazi, former Kadima leader Tzipi Livni, Tel Aviv Mayor Ron Huldai, and political hopeful and commentator Yair Lapid. Coalition member and Kadima head Shaul Mofaz arrived, but was booed and asked to leave.

The Supreme Court deemed the Tal law unconstitutional in February, causing an uproar in the Hareidi community, including an early morning “sack and ashes” protest against being forced to join the army.  At the June 25 rally, Eda Haredit leader Rabbi Tuvia called mandatory Hareidi enlistment the  government’s efforts to “destroy the Torah world.”

At the Sunday morning meeting, Prime Minister Netanyahu utilized the recommendations of the defunct Plesner committee to brief Likud MKs.  Soon after the briefing, the group agreed to promote the committee’s findings.  The prime minister will meet with Mofaz to establish a legislation drafting team to replace the Tal Law.  Initial reports indicate that MKs are ready to back the prime minister as long as conscription laws will include drafting into national service of Arabs with Israeli citizenship.

Defense Minister Ehud Barak disagreed with the notion of addressing Arab service at this time. “The main issue is ultra-Orthodox service,” said Barak. “We will have to create a law to deal with Arab inclusion in national service at a later date.”

Regardless, the new law will aim to slowly increase the numbers of conscripts, and provide a lot of incentives and benefits to participants.  It will also enable a certain number of Torah “prodigies” – about 1,500 across the country – to remain exempt and continue Torah study in place of serving in the IDF.

“We are doing this 64 years after the issue was originally mishandled. This is a historic change,” said Netanyahu at the meeting.

The Plesner report calls for enforcement mechanisms to be put into place to prevent draft dodging, including sanctions against yeshivas which keep students from enlisting.

Law makers have until August 1 to put a new law into action.

Bibi Dissolves Tal Law Committee, Setting Up Potential Government Rift

Wednesday, July 4th, 2012

A government coalition effort to craft a revised version of the Tal Law, whereby a sizeable number of draft eligible haredi yeshiva students would be forced to choose between joining the Israel Defense Forces or partake in Sherut Leumi (alternative national service), could become a political quagmire for Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, as Kadima Party leader Shaul Mofaz is threatening to bolt the unity government over a lack of progress toward finding a solution.

Earlier this week Netanyahu dissolved the Plesner Committee, which was charged with recommending an alternative to the Tal Law, after several key committee members from Yahadut HaTorah, Shas and Bayit Yehudi (Jewish Home), who represent opposing positions on the issue, refused to partake in committee meetings and summarily resigned.

Members of Kadima, Likud, Yisrael Beiteinu and Bayit Yehudi are adamant about creating a legally binding draft law that would roll back the number of draft exemptions in the haredi yeshiva world to levels agreed upon by successive Israeli governments (which included the haredi parties) over 20 years ago. For the moment, political and rabbinic leaders within the Shas and Yahadut HaTorah factions have steadfastly refused the Plesner Committee’s various recommendations despite the fact that a sizeable number of Shas Party voters have served in the IDF. Yahadut HaTorah hard-liners have also rejected many aspects of the Sherut Leumi program.

Mofaz has refused to meet with Netanyahu to resolve the dispute, criticizing the Israeli leader for torpedoing efforts to forge a new national draft law to replace the Tal Law. That law expires on August 1.

Netanyahu is now faced with the task of trying to prevent Kadima, Shas, Yahadut HaTorah and Bayit Yehudi from bringing down the government before July 25, the scheduled end of the summer Knesset session.

According to several Israeli media reports, the IDF’s Manpower Division has already informed Defense Minister Ehud Barak that the army could not absorb large numbers of haredi recruits, while Sherut Leumi would be more than willing to accommodate yeshiva graduates. These haredi recruits could provide needed help to the alternative service’s year-round support staff shortages.

With looming government budget cuts and other austerity measures destined to negatively affect the economic fortunes of draft-exempt haredi students who receive government stipends, Netanyahu government members are perplexed by the hard-line positions of both Shas and Yahadut HaTorah. Those serving in Sherut Leumi receive monthly stipends and, in some instances involving two-year commitments to serve in government, living quarters at no cost and free transportation expenses.

In an effort to maintain government unity, particularly with Kadima, Netanyahu said, “Let us take the reins and bring about a solution. I am committed to a more equitable division of the burden. In January, even before the High Court of Justice ruling [requiring a new draft law], I declared that I would work towards greater equality in sharing the burden, gradually, among the ultra-orthodox and Arab publics, without setting public against public. This has been, and remains, my position.

“We charged the Plesner Committee with formulating an agreed-upon proposal for the government and the coalition in keeping with the High Court of Justice ruling. To my regret, the Plesner Committee did not succeed in reaching agreed-upon outlines due to the withdrawal of several of its members, and it cannot formulate a recommendation that would achieve a Knesset majority. For all intents and purposes, the committee has disbanded. The disbanding of the committee does not obviate our responsibility to deal with the issue of equality in bearing the burden.”

Netanyahu outlined his ideas to try to resolve the problem. He pledged to “invite the heads of the coalition parties to try to formulate a proposal that would receive a Knesset majority. Pursuant to my talks with Shaul Mofaz, I believe that with a joint effort we can achieve the desired result. If by August 1 there is no agreed-upon majority, the Tal Law will be abrogated and Security Service Law [universal draft] will come into effect, applicable to all Israeli citizens.

“I prefer an agreed-upon and gradual solution,” the prime minister continued. “But if we cannot reach such a solution by August 1, the IDF will draft according to its needs, and I believe that it will do so while taking into consideration the various publics so as to prevent a rift in the nation. Since the Security Service Law does not deal with the participation of the Arab and ultra-Orthodox publics in civilian service, we will also work to provide arrangements on this issue.”

Haredim Can Do Anything

Thursday, June 28th, 2012

Two Haredi men ride a camel on the Mount of Olives.

The Knesset committee tasked with crafting an alternative to the Tal Law for haredi service in Israel is reportedly almost done drafting its proposal.

According to the plan, Haredi men would perform two years of national or military service (in contrast to the three years mandated for male soldiers in the IDF), and the state would offer Haredim a variety of recruitment options to choose from, like additional “Nahal Haredi” units and special tracks within the Police force and the Prison Services.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/photos/haredim-can-be-trained-to-do-anything/2012/06/28/

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