Draft Law: Government Foolishness Is Army’s Misery

Children in Kiryat Sefer on Thursday got dressed up for Purim (JDN)
Children in Kiryat Sefer on Thursday got dressed up for Purim (JDN)


The law that was passed this week in the Knesset unfortunately brings us closer to a civilian rebellion. All the responsibility for this will fall on the country’s leaders, who did not know how to read the map correctly and got dragged into it by rookie politicians who will quickly discover what a catastrophe they have wrought upon the country. History will remember it, and them, as a disaster for generations to come.

The authorities in Israel have never made such a foolish decision as they did this week by passing the draft law in Knesset.

There was never equality in Israel and there never will be, not between the secular and chareidi populations, and not between the secular citizens and themselves. Does a solider serving in the Casbah in Shechem, or facing Hizbullah outposts on Har Dov serve as equally as one who sits in the Galei Zahal (Army Radio) studios in Yaffo? Does the athlete who gets an exemption because he needs to practice for his sports meets share the burden the same way as the a soldier standing in an outpost facing Beit Hanoun in the Gaza Strip? There is no equality in life, not between rich and poor or between men and women, and there won’t be an equal sharing of the burden either.

That’s because the secular person thinks the burden is military service while the chareidi perceives Torah learning as the true burden. And perhaps the secular population does not share enough of the Jewish burden of our nation? A law can and is allowed to force things on individuals. But it cannot harm a significant minority of nearly one million people in an aggressive fashion.

For 65 years, all the government echelons, be they political, judicial, or the media, understood that the chareidi sector views its Torah as its craft, and that’s why its service was deferred until a time that someone was no longer learning full time. In such a case, even the chareidi community agreed that one who does not learn as a full-time occupation, should enlist or register in another suitable civil volunteer framework.

So what has changed recently that resulted in a change of this understanding that worked well until today?

The answer can be found with the pointing of one finger: the huge sums of money that external entities began investing in Israeli groups and organizations to fight for anti-Jewish and anti-Israel agendas.

Huge sums of money are funneled from European and American organizations to fight against the Israeli right, the Israeli policies in the territories, and against the chareidi public, which is perceived as a factor because several years down the road it is liable to become the majority in the country. “What will happen to us then?” the secular ask themselves. They think their children will have to flee to Berlin permanently, instead of only spending part of their time there as they do today.

From here, it was just a short step to the massive attack launched by public relations firms, whose entire financial basis comes from the huge sums of money. They were urged to attack anyone who was “different.” And that is where the political parties, whose entire ideology is based on hatred, come from.

It’s easy to wave slogans and get votes at the ballot box, and then come and say, with our mandates, we have to do this and that.

But very quickly, usually in less than one term, the public recovers. They understand that such parties are nothing more than hot air. That’s the way it was with Lapid senior, and there is no doubt that the son is headed in the same direction. The public will quickly realize that the whole battle for equal sharing of the burden is shallow and hollow, and not only will it not add a single solider to the army, it will also bring those who had, for various reasons and with guidance of their Rabbanim, enlisted in the army, to go back to the yeshivos. All that is going to stop now.

War is war. Each side focuses its energies and decides where to direct its artillery. Weren’t those secular people and their partners in the religious sector, headed by the usurpers of the religious parties who turned them into religion-hating entities, convinced that they were going to win big in Beit Shemesh this week? Yes, they were convinced. And what happened? We all know.

The public isn’t stupid. The secular public will soon realize that the whole “equal sharing of the burden” is nothing but a foolish slogan. It has put the brakes on processes that had begun and expanded on their own, and which will now regress.

What is this decision about sanctions, economic or criminal, if not one big joke? If the deciders thought that they were able to pass these sanctions, they would have decided to implement them immediately. But they know that these decisions are not possible to implement, and that’s why they found a perfect way to run away from their own decisions, determining that the sanctions will only take effect in four more years, at the beginning of 2018.

They also know that until then, there will be elections at least twice if not three times, and everything will change. In four years, the chareidi public won’t be the same as it is now. It will be larger and stronger, and the tens of thousands from within its ranks that joined secular parties such as the Likud, Lieberman and the rest, understand now that they made a mistake and most of them will return home, so to speak.

That is again what happened in Beit Shemesh. This time, it was a tough battle. In four years, there won’t be a secular person who will want to run for the mayoralty, because the reality of life will change the political reality in the city. The majority will be clear. While in the secular society in Israel, the average Jewish family is 2.9 souls, in the chareidi sector it is baruch Hashem, 9.7 souls. Someone studied the trend and found that around every old secular person in Israel, there are about three or four children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren, while an elderly person in the chareidi community is surrounded by some 50 offspring. Now, multiply that in a few years and the picture is clear. And there are those who are frightened by the scenario.

The attempt to bring a million Russians to Israel, most of them Jewish, was successful. Then, 120,000 Ethiopians were brought to the country by entities who pushed for their aliyah. In the interim, descendants of the Ten Tribes and others were brought. What next? There are no more new sources to counterbalance the chareidim.

Only an agreement with the Palestinians to give the right of return to anyone who wants will change the face of the country. But the secular public is actually afraid of that and will do everything possible to thwart it. In fact, a law toward that end was also passed in Knesset this week, as part of the three new laws.

In the coming four years, both the proverbial dog and the poritz will die, and all the legislation that was passed this week will dissipate into thin air. On the contrary, the chareidi parties who will return to the coalition had a wonderful lesson this week in how far they can go in their future demands. Things that they never dreamed of asking for before, out of a sense of responsibility for the wider public, will now be in play, after the other side was totally inconsiderate of their most basic needs.

There is only one entity that hasn’t had the final word yet: the High Court. And when the court will sense that the things they wanted to achieve were not achieved, they will not hesitate to intervene. We have to hope that they will act wisely, because decisions in this direction will be the last nail in the coffin of their grip, their status and their continued function, even in the eyes of the secular public. The High Court is not foolish, it understands everything. In the end, it will not allow matters to get out of control. We recently saw that in the actions of the Labor Party, a much more logical, deliberate entity compared to other political parties that comprise the government. It is worth examining the achievements that the religious public got in the state during the years that the Mapai (Ben Gurion’s party) and the left headed the government, compared to the tremendous erosion that the right-wing leaders caused in religious achievements — at a time when the right wing was depicted as “brothers.” Today we know very well where those “brothers” are headed.

Yes, there is also the practical front, which is manifested by the hopes of the secular that all these laws that were passed will bring about a rapid integration of the chareidi public into the Israeli economy and work force. It’s all more foolishness, compounded by inanity and bordering on plain stupidity.

First of all, who said that most of the chareidi public doesn’t work?

It works, but why does it have to say where exactly it works? True, there is a large percentage that perceives Torah learning as “service of Hashem” and also earns a livelihood through that. What’s wrong with that? Who said that a student studying Chinese and perusing Chinese literature and writing commentaries on it is a working person and that his work is any more important that one who pores over Jewish books? Why isn’t the latter considered to be working?

Central Bureau of Statistics figures show that 63.7% of Israeli citizens work. In the chareidi sector, 54.9% of the people work. That’s a gap that almost falls into the statistical margin of error. In reality, it doesn’t exist. If we include those who learn in kollelim and receive stipends, we will find that the number of breadwinners in the chareidi sector is more than in the secular sector. So what’s the problem? That they are not considered to be working according to the secular worldview.

In order to overcome this “terrible” situation, the architects of this brilliant law passed this week propose “releasing” those 32,000 avreichim of older ages who are registered as Torasam umnasam, and then they will all “flood” the labor market. In one morning, they think, the employment bureaus are going to be overrun with those seeking work. Indeed, because according to the “emancipators,” who wave the banner of Abraham Lincoln, these tens of thousands have been “incarcerated” until now, and will now be allowed to go free.

The idea is excellent, and the release should come as soon as possible — just to prove to the emancipators that even after their amnesty, there won’t be a wave of people heading into the Israeli labor market. Anyone who has been seriously learning until now will continue to do so. And whoever wasn’t learning is already working, or combining learning with working.

And then the huge deception of the Israeli public will be revealed. As if they have what to offer a chareidi looking for work, or that the secular person is standing with open arms, waiting for the chareidi to come looking for a job. They will quickly realize that in the state of Israel today, there are no jobs for secular people who finished serving in combat units and certainly not for chareidim. It will become clear that Israeli employers don’t only hate the Ethiopians and the Arabs, they hate the chareidim the same way, if not more.

In a short time, they will start saying, “The chareidim don’t have degrees or professional training, they didn’t learn core curriculum subjects, so what kind of jobs can we offer? Only menial jobs at slave labor rates.” Because the government built up a theory that those who graduated after four years in university are trained for any job, while those who learn Torah are “idlers” who haven’t gained anything from studying for 14 hours a day.

Have you ever tried to get a job at a government office? They ask for résumés. That’s just the beginning. Then they’ll need your diplomas. A bachelor’s degree isn’t enough anymore; they prefer those with master’s degrees. Then let’s say you have all that, when you come to the place that advertised a job opening, and want to fill out an application, they’ll tell you, “One minute, some of the jobs are already slated for … Arabs and Druze, under affirmative action regulations.” And if you ask what about affirmative action for chareidim, you’ll find that there is no such thing.

Let’s leave that for a minute. If you report with your diplomas, and you meet all the criteria, they’ll send you to an evaluation centers. Each center gets NIS 700 from the state to evaluate you. To do what? Not to ask what you studied and what you have a degree in, but they will put you in front of a computer that will flash different images and fragments of words and you’ll be asked to quickly say … what is the exception and what connects with what. They’ll add two questions of mathematics, and at the end of this psychometric exam, they will rate you if you are even qualified enough to be … submitted as a name for a tender.

And all of this is “smart.” It is meant to give those in the government offices who are responsible for hiring workers an excellent tool to decide for themselves who they want to hire and who not. In the reality of our lives, every supervisor in every office has relatives, friends, friends of the minister and the director general, and those are hired even if their degrees don’t exactly meet the criteria. It’s called “a sewn up tender.”

Now, send a chareidi candidate to navigate this labyrinth and you will quickly discover that there is no way he has a chance of getting hired. And then the Economics Minister comes and suggests that the government give him NIS 500 million so that he can create jobs for chareidim (NIS 100 million for every one of the next five years.) He has already convened the group that will be involved in this, ninety percent of which would be very happy if the chareidim got nowhere, people who are clueless about chareidim.

But don’t worry, with this NIS 100 million, they will be able to employ no small number of relatives and acquaintances, who will ostensibly be looking for “suitable” jobs for chareidim while the politicians responsible for them will be able to hammer the chareidim a bit more.

Professor Yedidya Stern, deputy president of the Israel Democracy Institute and a respected law professor at Bar Ilan University, who was a partner in the Shaked Committee’s work and tried to persuade them to adopt a reasonable decision but was not heeded, wrote recently: “The intention of the proposers is to tempt the chareidim to leave yeshivah and go out to the work force, but their calculation is mistaken. The lifestyle of those who learn is based on a deep internalization of the value of learning, and will not change in the blink of an eye of three years. Breaking down the doors of the beis medrash for 36 months will not effect a dramatic change, because the leadership of the community will canvass all its strength to maintain the boundaries. A period of acclimation will be interpreted as a test of the integrity of the entire chareidi enterprise and therefore, pressure against going out to work will spike significantly.

“Moreover,” Professor Stern writes, “even if tens of thousands of chareidim will close their Gemaros tomorrow and go out to work, there is a reasonable chance that they will join the ranks of the unemployed. The economy in Israel cannot offer, from one day to the next, tens of thousands of jobs for people who are intelligent, yet who lack relevant academic decrees. The failure of this exodus will have a destructive effect of despair on integration, and will result in a mass return to the chareidi ghetto. We need a process, not a revolution.

“The Knesset’s legislation on the equal sharing of the burden,” Professor Stern writes, “is a resounding failure whose proportions have not yet been understood in the broader public. The experts on chareidi society — from its harsh critics to its firm supporters — agree that the law has a double flaw: on the practical side, it is not effective, and on the symbolic side, it is offensive and is dragging us into a civil discord. It’s hard to think of a worse outcome,” Stern concludes.

And now to the IDF.

The approval of the law this week is going to make the IDF miserable.

The IDF of before the decision and the IDF of after the decision will not be the same army. Instead of being busy in what an army should be busy with, it is already up to its ears in thinking how exactly they can implement the decisions made by the political echelons to integrate these “new” soldiers. Those who will be coming “en masse.

The army, like an army, gets orders and quickly does what it is told. They were told to prepare for the possibility of war in Iran — and they did. It cost the State of Israel NIS 13.7 billion. And not because the army thought it was good or necessary. It was an order and they complied. Will there ever be an attack there?  No one knows. Chances are slim. But when the army gets orders from above, it’s as good as done.

For several months already, the army has several hundred people working to prepare for the “mass recruitment” of chareidim. It has a budget of NIS 90 million toward this. Included in this is the budget to establish a Chareidi Screening Center (a special recruitment center for chareidim.) This center is preparing for a “tsunami” of chareidim that will flood it, as I said, “en masse.” And the last tsunami we had on these shores was several hundred years ago. That’s about how long it will take for this tsunami to come.

Like the war in Iran, it’s an investment that the army knows nothing will come out of. But when the government says something, the army complies.

It’s a shame that the politicians don’t talk to senior army brass and ask their opinion. They would be stunned to hear that the army is simply afraid of chareidim. It doesn’t want them (and the senior of the senior officers say this even without whispering). We don’t need them, they say aloud. And it’s not because the army doesn’t need fighters. It definitely wants more fighters, but it knows that this is not the address from which to expand its ranks.

In order to fill the ranks of another few thousand apparatchiks, in the best case, who have no motivation and who will have to be paid large salaries, they say, “thanks but no thanks.”

But the fools continue waving the banner of “a national army” and will continue building on the idea that was already insignificant 65 years ago. Statements as though the army will find relief in the additional chareidi manpower is lip service of people who are not smart, hypocrites who simply hate chareidim and have it in for them for years. They just don’t know that they have the wrong address.

The army not only doesn’t want the chareidim, it is afraid of the day that the chareidim will flood the ranks. The IDF says is as clearly as possible: “Even if the chareidim do come, they will come in large groups, and they will go to the autonomic units, because those are the only ones where they can serve. It scares us. We will have no way to deal with them. The army has a values system, and these people have a totally different value system. Most times, the two systems contradict each other. The army’s success is that it takes children at the age of 17 or 18 and makes them completely submissive to their officers and commanders. There is nothing above them. And here, their commanders will be those who aren’t in the army, yet tell these units what to do, when to do it. The source of authority for these soldiers won’t be their army commander, or even the law, if it contravenes halachah and their higher rabbinic authority.

Within a day, two, or maximum a week, it will all implode. The military hierarchy, which is the basis upon which the army exists, will collapse like a house of cards. Why do we need to bring this upon ourselves, the army echelons ask, but the political echelons ignore them. Because they don’t agree with the army.

An army is built on unification around one goal, and unification of the ranks. And here, the recruiters know that neither of those two factors will be present when the army will be flooded with chareidim. The recruits will not seem themselves obligated to the military hierarchy or values. These are two societies that are not separated by a chasm, they are separated by an ocean. There is no bridge that exists that can link the two sides. And the military echelons know this and are aware of it, yet they are miserably keeping quiet. It has not stood up to the politicians and said, leave us alone. It’s not doable and don’t delude yourselves.

The political echelons made a decision that is in essence a punishment for the army by tossing an impossible task onto its shoulders.

Already now, in preparation for absorbing the “masses,” the IDF is at a loss for ideas. It promised that every chareidi soldier will get everything he needs to uphold a full chareidi life in the army. But the army is ashamed to tell the politicians that it has no way to fulfill this pledge. And therefore, it has prepared an integration plan that is full of holes (for example, they promised mikvaos, but the army already took that part out, there won’t be mikvaos.) They promised kosher l’mehadrin food, and the IDF has reached the conclusion that on most bases, it can only offer “kosher mehadrin products” but not kosher cooked food or a kosher mehadrin kitchen. Anyone who knows the difference knows that it’s the difference between Heaven and earth, and sometimes between kosher and treif.

The politicians promised that all chareidi units would be men only. The IDF doesn’t accept that. It already planned that there won’t be female commanders up to a certain rank. From that point and up, it’s all open. And in the chareidi recruitment center, for anyone who is interested, there will be female soldiers who will be allowed only … to administer injections. The IDF held a closed forum regarding the question of what will happen in an emergency. And it decided that all its obligations, glatt kosher food, the general atmosphere, tefillah times, mixing men and women, all of that is annulled the moment there is a state of emergency. When isn’t it a state of emergency in this country?

Anyone who studies the way the IDF is preparing for the mass recruitment clearly gets the sense that they are not interested in getting involved. The senior brass of the IDF tell me at every opportunity, “Do everything you can to absolve us of this headache. We see you as a danger to the existence of the solid army we have built for 65 years. Who needs you here? Not us. If someone promised you that you will come out of the army the way you went in, ask them how exactly they can fulfill this. We are honest and we don’t promise anything that we can’t fulfill.”

The IDF is miserable now. I don’t envy the senior brass and all the other ones who were given the job of preparing for this. They are spending days and nights on it, but the bottom line is, they understand very well that it’s actually a plan against the army.

This week, all the trains have embarked on a collision course.

The law that was passed this week is pushing towards a civil rebellion, and I say this with pain and regret, and the responsibility for it will fall on the country’s leadership that did not know how to handle it, and was dragged along by rookie politicians who have no foresight, and who will discover very quickly the catastrophe they have wreaked upon the country. History will remember this and them as a disaster for generations to come.