Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Israel's Supreme Court against the "Tal Law"

Just recently, I wrote the below article on the Israeli "Tal Law" and yesterday, the Supreme Court took an interesting step: The "Tal Law" is cancelled, as it doesn't show any equality ! It cannot be that a certain society group is exempt from the army service while others have to serve. 

Now the Israeli government has got six months offering another law proposal. This shouldn't be that easy, as the haredi parties are part of the coalition. On the other hand, it is not impossible, as also haredi ministers like to keep their positions.

My former article from a few weeks ago:

Again, the Israeli government has to decide about the extention of the controversial “Chok Tal – Tal Law”: Young male Haredim who are enrolled in Yeshivot are, according to the "Tal Law", exempt from the army service. 

Every time, the law is being discussed anew, all kinds of new / old criticism is coming up. At the moment, the time making a decision is not the best: For the past weeks, Israeli left - wing organizations as well as the secular press have been spreading the worst propaganda against haredi society as a whole. Without pointing out various differences between various haredi groups and ideologies. 

I can understand those Israelis who are joining the army service without any complaint. They see it as their duty to protect and fight for our country. I can also understand that regular Israeli soldiers are upset about an entire (haredi) society not joining the armed forces. On the other hand, I do understand many Haredim who do not join the Israeli army. One of the main reasons why they don't are society reasons. Young Haredim are reluctant to go to the army, as they fear being rejected from their own society. Especially regarding Shidduchim or that family members won't be accepted at great Yeshivot. 

More than a decade ago, the army unit “Nahal HaCharedi” was founded. The first soldiers joining this haredi unit were Haredim. However, a little later, the "Nahal" made the mistake of accepting more and more national religious soldiers. The difference is that national religious soldiers do agree to certain "light" standards such as eating kosher food with a "Chief Rabbinate - Rabbanut" Hechsher. Most Haredim do not. Haredim don't really want to serve in this unit anymore, as they don't consider the "Nahal" as entirely haredi but as something "modern Orthodox". Nevertheless, there is quite a high amount of Haredim who would like to serve in the army if the religious standards were higher. The more Rabbis were favouring the army service, the more Haredim would actually join. 

Haredim as well as national religious men claim that the army itself doesn't want too many frum soldiers. Despite all criticism, does the army really need so many haredi soldiers ? The generals say YES but reality appears to be different. The Ministry of Defense has been spreading quite shocking reports: In another 10 years or so, the Israeli army is going to face a lack of soldiers. How then will we be able to defend our country ? As expected, the press found the guilty side: The Haredim. On the other hand, the media also pointed out that the amount of secular Israelis looking for exemption from the army, has been constantly growing. The number 1 refusals are coming from secular Israelis living in Tel Aviv. 

I don't have any solution to offer. On the one hand, I do understand the haredi public and its refusal of going to the army. On the other hand, I have lots of sympathy for Israeli soldiers complaining about the "Tal Law". Why do they have to serve while others sit in Yeshivot or simply do nothing besides enrolling ? As a matter of fact, there is a high amount of young Haredim who are enrolled in Yeshivot but hardly participate in any studies. 

I know a national religious Rabbi whose son has become haredi. The son was anxious becoming a soldier but the father didn't let him go because he was too afraid that his son may die on the battlefield. The result was that the son didn't join the army but the service could have changed his life into more positive directions. Bored and not knowing what to do in life, the son went a little astray due to money matters. 

By the way, a couple of years ago (when I was still younger), I asked the army whether I can still join. Due to my advanced age, I couldn't but was offered to volunteer at a checkpoint. The problem was that I need to earn a living and thus didn't sign up.  

Anyone interested in reading a good book on the issue:

The Chabadnik (I don't know if he still is one), David Zoldan, wrote a book about his army service and the first "Nachal HaHaredi" where he was serving. I haven't finished reading the whole book but sometimes the content is too military. Which general said what and how the Nachal was founded. 

However, the book is interesting to read and also describes the reaction of David Zoldan's Rabbi and Mashpiah who didn't agree with the step the former Yeshiva student took. 

The book was published in Hebrew and the English title:

"The Yarmulke and the Helmet" 

The story of the First Ultra - Orthodox Army Unit"

by David Zoldan

The right photo shows David Zoldan at the beginning of his army service. The left picture was taken later. 

SHTUREM has an article about Zoldan. Hebrew only !

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