Beyond the Cusp

June 26, 2018

There are Correct and Incorrect Means to Haredi Enlistment

 

The IDF is in a bit of a jam and the political arena is not being helpful. The bit of a jam is over the IDF refusal to promote Brigadier General Ofer Vinter, a Kippah wearing, religious Zionist officer. Those in the religious Zionist community are left wondering if perhaps his religious observance and Zionist philosophy were behind this refusal. On the other side of the equation is that Brigadier General Ofer Vinter was not exactly a normal officer in some critical ways. He was not much of a supporter of the containment mentality of the official brass in the General Staff and was more of the kind of personality that when given an objective would clear a path by cutting a wide swath to his goal. Where this philosophy is to be lauded on the battlefield and much endeared him to his troops, it does not fit well with cool-headed planning of distant goals. There was also the pressure from the left in Israel who became enraged when it was revealed that when commanding the Givati Brigade during 2014 Protective Edge engagement against Hamas and Islamic Jihad in Gaza, Vinter wrote in his battle orders that his unit “was fighting an enemy which defiles our God,” words used by David against Goliath, and ended with the Jewish Shema prayer. None of his officers or enlisted troops was upset by this including the secular soldiers and all stated that this gave them greater strength of purpose and was quite uplifting. I was an infantryman and being given spiriting and uplifting words before an engagement is exactly what one desires from their commanding officers, but that was lost on those desiring making political hay. Still, Brigadier General Ofer Vinter was also seen as not having the best managerial style and was said to even have shortcomings and though he was a creative warrior, he left behind a disorganized staff headquarters. This was likely what weighed heavily in this decision but that is likely to be ignored by those who supported his promotion from the religious Zionist community. After all, it is not like there have not been Kippah-wearing officers in command positions before as the picture below from the taking of the Western Wall during the Six Day War depicts.

 

IDF Rabbi with Celebratory Cigar and Torah Scroll Entering Old City

IDF Rabbi with Celebratory Cigar and Torah Scroll Entering Old City

 

What does this have to do with Haredi enlistment will soon become evident. The Knesset is once again wrestling with writing a new draft law as the Supreme Court has set aside the last law claiming it was discriminatory. The Supreme Court has apparently been attempting to force the Knesset to draft Haredi youth in the same exact manner as they do everybody else. That is all well and good except that has not been the law in the past and Haredi has, for the longest time, been completely deferred from being drafted. We applaud the efforts to move the Haredi community to become more engaged with normative lives within the Israeli community if for no other reason than because they are an increasing percentage of the population and it has become necessary for them to lead more normative lives as it will soon be impossible to provide for them entirely as they rise in proportion to the rest of the society. The thought is if they are drafted, they will become more exposed to the remainder of Israeli society and more of them will find work and lead what is a normal life rather than spend all of their time studying Torah. Leaders in the Haredi community have largely opposed any attempt to take away what they believe is their special character as the new priesthood representative of the Kohanim in ancient Israel. They ignore that they already present a higher percentage of the total population than the Kohanim ever were in ancient Israel and as such are becoming too large a strain on the economy. The problem is changing the rules from the former extreme to the other extreme is not exactly the most efficient or productive means of making this change and there are other factors as well.

 

One would think that the IDF would be working to make selected units more accommodating for Haredi to serve while not forcing a lifestyle situation which is unacceptable to their teachings and way of life. Unfortunately, the IDF has been doing exactly the opposite. They have made some combat units which had been exclusively male into coed units, which is something which the Haredi will fight against being forced into serving. There have been a number of public events where women were presented and would sing, something that the very religious men are forbidden from attending, where the religious men were told they could not briefly leave the presentation until the women’s singing presentation was completed. These cases were brought to the attention of the General Staff who decided that these commanders were within their right to force these men to remain for the women’s presentation as to allow them to leave would be upsetting to the women. You can see where this is headed. There has been a growing suspicion that the General Staff are against making any allowances for the very religious at the same time as the political front is trying to force some of the most stringently religious into serving in the IDF. If you want to bring the Haredi into the IDF, might not it make sense to create an atmosphere where they would not be offended right out of the gate?

 

Where they could make a soufflé, the General Staff is making scrambled eggs and claiming it does not make a difference, they are still eggs. That will not go well and if the IDF cannot make room for the Haredi to remain within their comfort level, then their rabbis will advise refusal to serve, which some already have done. Should the Haredi refuse draft notice en-masse, the political class had better also make a budget for a very large prison in which to hold these draft resisters. Writing a draft bill which demands that all Haredi of draft age be enlisted into service will serve neither the IDF nor the Haredi community. There must be a deferment allowance for a number of Torah scholars whose study of Torah would provide benefit beyond esoteric benefits as described in prayers that they bring peace to the world. Even the idea that their study of Torah will bring peace to the world, thus far it does not appear to be working which means either they are not doing it correctly or something else is definitely wrong. One complaint we have heard is that should one drive through the Haredi community during the day, they would see numerous young Haredi males simply out and about and in coffee bistros and engaged in many activities which do not appear to be Torah study. We have not tested this theory, but have seen pictures which give it credibility. Perhaps there can be found a middle ground where those Haredi who graduate from their Yeshiva with exemplary grades and have shown a propensity for original thought and interpretation of Torah to be granted deferments. The percentage and grade expectation for this along with a requirement for letters recommending their deferment from at least three of their teachers could be arranged with the Haredi Rabbinate. But forcing the entirety of the Haredi to suddenly be drafted is completely untenable.

 

IDF Crest Insignia

 

There is another side to this as well, and it too has to do with the budget. The IDF takes a large slice of the budget which makes complete sense when we look at the rioting currently occurring on the Gaza border and the potential for threats from Syria and Lebanon. It is a well-established fact that Israel need be on a war footing at all times with a ready reserve to provide support and bolster the numbers of in uniform soldiers often at a moment’s notice. But the IDF is currently fully manned according to reports we have read and in some fields has more recruits than are necessary even during times of active conflict. Even the infantry ranks are well manned, especially in the most elite corps. Simply put, currently there is no crying need for additional forces, especially in the numbers drafting all Haredi would provide. Thus this does not need to be done as if there were some emergency requiring such an increase in manpower for the IDF. Would the effect of providing more reserves prove advantageous? Well, of course, but not to the effect that such a move would provide and one must also weigh the cost societally. Angering an entire sector of society which would also produce ripples through other areas is not exactly prudent. Yes, the Haredi need to be brought into the mainstream. This can be performed intelligently starting with having certain changes in their education system introducing additional STEM course requirements to at least introduce them to some of the more useful tools for joining the mainstream preparing them for having a decent chance for finding employment. To bring about radical change, there are two ways of doing so. There is the gentler and less likely to cause adverse opposition way or the way my uncle taught me to swim by throwing me into the deep end of the pool. Do the members of the Knesset really desire to take the sink or swim route or the coax and offer incentives route. The problem is some are using this political football to try and bring down the coalition and force elections. That is another side which has nothing to do with Haredi, Torah study or anything but the religion of the left to destroy anything which they do not control. But that is for another time with an issue which is not so socially charged.

 

Beyond the Cusp

 

1 Comment »

  1. Reblogged this on Oyia Brown.

    Like

    Comment by OyiaBrown — June 30, 2018 @ 6:49 AM | Reply


RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

Create a free website or blog at WordPress.com.