How to dismantle the IDF

Who will tell the Haredim how to serve, who will dare to dictate conditions of service to them? To them it’s the army of the czar, who drafted them into its ranks against their will, by force.


Who is opposed to eliminating terror, who is opposed to equal sharing of the burden. We’re all unanimously in favor, nobody is opposed. My friends and I once also made the demand for conscription of the Haredim (ultra-Orthodox) a top priority, but that was a long time ago, decades ago, and eventually I changed my mind. Not because I have become wiser since then, but because I opened my eyes.

Yossi Sarid

Yossi Sarid

I saw what the rabbis of the settlers and of religious Zionism did to the Israel Defense Forces, how they turned it from the people’s army into an army of Phalangists; how rabbis became acting commanders whose uniformed students do their bidding, and these rabbis are the ones who will give the orders on the day of judgment. The IDF is afraid of them, and they do whatever they please – and all in order to prevent “a rift in the nation.”

And if the Hardalim (ultra-Orthodox far-rightists ) are like that, how much more so the Haredim: Who will tell them how to serve, who will dare to dictate conditions of service to them? After all, this army is not their army; to them it’s the army of the czar, who is drafting them into its ranks against their will, by force. Their first loyalty is always and in every situation reserved for Lithuania in Jerusalem, for Baghdad in Jerusalem.

I can already picture military correspondent Carmela Menashe reporting on a yeshiva student-soldier whose young son fell ill, suddenly developed a high fever, and his wife summons her husband from the base to the hospital. She has left another two to three babies at home, her husband is no longer a child, he’s at least 22. Someone has to help her, but the commander refuses to release her helpmate in the middle of a training exercise. Won’t we all protest the hardheartedness? It’s absolutely infuriating. After all, equality in sharing the burden of the family is also an important value.

And another yeshiva student will say he noticed a female soldier walking near the camp, he’s almost certain it was a woman, he was even able to hear her voice from afar. Here’s the proof: The IDF is not really interested in conscripting them, isn’t willing to consider their feelings, and it’s impossible to go on this way.

One scandal follows another, it’s already the third case in one week: Another yeshiva student, who was hungry, got up at night to eat something in the brigade pantry. He became very upset: The kashrut stamp on the canned goods is an unacceptable one, and not from the proper Badatz (Haredi kosher certification ). True it’s kosher, even glatt kosher, but it’s someone else’s seal of approval, not ours. As though bitten by a snake he runs outside to the parade grounds, and with a loud “gevalt” he wakes up his friends. Together they decide to phone the rebbe, to wake him up, too, so he can rend his clothes and raise a scandal. Here’s additional proof of the non-Jewish nature of the Zionist army, which will soon be an army of Arabs, because Yisrael Beitenu (“Israel Our Home” ) is also Israel their home, until the voluntary transfer.

And what will happen on Shabbat? Who will measure 2,000 cubits and draw the Shabbat boundary? And who will rule on what constitutes pikuah nefesh (a danger to life ) that justifies desecrating the Shabbat, and who is worthy of having his life saved on the holy day? Soon there will be a heated debate over Jewish religious law between the rabbinical leaders of the Hardalim and those of the Haredim, whose disputes are always for the sake of heaven and never for earthly reasons: Who will bully the IDF more, who will prove to be the most important Jewish legal arbiter of the generation? In other words: Conscription for all, in the present situation, means dismantling the IDF.

And the loyal politicians will continue to discuss the issue next week as well: On whom should we now depend, on God and everlasting life or on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and the present? During the past two days, the yeshiva world once again breathed a sigh of relief, ah mechaya. Salvation arrived from Bibi (Netanyahu ) and Bogie (Moshe Ya’alon ).

And still, for how long will they slay themselves in the lethal tents of Torah; will they forever eat the bread of charity from handouts? Only one thing will release them from the ranks of idleness: the need to earn a living. For that purpose, there’s no choice, we have to dry up the swamp of allowances and fees, grants and stipends, tax exemptions and eligibilities, benefits and discounts and government support, overt and covert welfare.

Only then will their Torah become the Torah of life; and even the Talmudic prodigy, Professor Maimonides, will go to his daily job in the institution named after him, cure the sick, and in the evening will find time to study Torah, science, philosophy and foreign languages, as he has always done.


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