Tuesday, July 10, 2012

The Charedi Reaction to the Draft

I wish I could say that I am surprised by the reaction. Unfortunately I am not surprised at all. There are two stories that demonstrate just how opposed Charedi rabbinc leadership is to the possibility of universal conscription. Both articles show the depth of both anger and righteous indignation over the  Chutzpah by the State to say that there will no longer be any class of Jews that will automatically be exempt from the draft.  Charedim obviously feel there ought to be at least one class of Jews who are exempt. Themselves.

How bad do they consider this?

The haredi community leadership has long ago declared the idea of drafting the haredi yeshiva boys at age 18, or even at age 23, to be a sha'as shmad. That is considered as bad as it gets. Think of the times of the Romans not allowing Torah study and Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai needing to hide out in a cave. Think about the Greeks outlawing Torah study and the people studying in caves and the kids playing dreidel to deflect the supervisors. The declaration of this being shaas shmad turns this into an equivalent of some of the darkest times in Jewish history.
A Shas Shmad is a time when Jews are forced by to violate Halacha for purposes of converting to another religion.  To fully understand the severity of Charedi opposition to the draft one needs to understand what a Shas Shmad means. 

There are three sins for which a Jew must sacrifice his life if he forced to commit them:  Shfichas damim, Avodah Zara, and Giluy Arayos – Murder, idol worship, and sexual acts that are of a capital nature. One should not give up his life for any other sin. So if for example someone puts a gun to your head and says violate Shabbos - you may violate Shabbos to save your life.  

But in times of forced conversions a Jew is required to give up his life even for the smallest infraction of Jewish law. This is how the religious right is now characterizing the draft. Give up your life before submitting to it! They equate submitting to the draft with forced conversions out of Judaism.

The following is from Israel Hayom:
Shas and United Torah Judaism vow to unite against Tal Law alternative if it forces haredi draft • Haredi representative: We will mount a protest like Israel has never seen before" • Shas: Netanyahu has been dragged off track by Kadima and seems to want bloodshed."
How much fear they must have about changing their paradigm to call it a Shas Shmad and to threaten a protest so large and intense that it will lead to bloodshed!

I believe that changing the paradigm is their main concern. Not the one they express publically about how Charedim are mistreated by the IDF in certain cases. A legitimate claim.

And they refuse to address the basic inequity of demanding only themselves to be excluded from a draft. An inequity of blood!

It is my personal belief that if the entire IDF became Charedi, they would object just as much. Not because they would have any valid complaint anymore. But because it would threaten their way of life. Yehoreg V’Al Yaavor! I think they would still be object to a draft in these terms. Even if there were a certain number of exemptions built into it (say 10% of the current number – that would equal about 6000 student exemptions.

They want it all. Let everyone else be drafted and put their lives in the line to protect the country in which they live. They will not put their lives on the line because they want all 60,000 of them (the current estimated number of young men learning full time and exempt from the draft) to stay in the Beis HaMedrash. Yehoreg V’Al Yaavor.

I say, let them protest. Let them speak loud and clear about their opposition. Let them condemn the government decree as a Shas Shmad. As long as there is no violence, let them have their say.

And then draft them all with jail time for resisters and draft dodgers.

Or in the alternative let them get over themselves and work out a system where their best and brightest - and most motivated - will be exempt.  And subsidized at a much higher rate than before.  And the rest will serve in some capacity for a full three year term under Charedi religious standards.

Standards that will be strictly enforced. Where any and all IDF abuses of Charedi recruits will be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law.  A law that will include very strong sanctions of such abuses.  Such as a demotion or even a loss of military commission.  Let them even develop a Charedi version of Hesder. I am absolutely convinced a program of service, exemptions, and deferments can be worked out that would be acceptable to everyone.

I don’t know… It seems to me that the second alternative is a far better way to go than the first which has the potential for violent confrontation (bloodshed?!) between Charedim and the government unlike Israel has ever experienced!