Ultra-Orthodox Conscription Enforced
You have delivered up our holy German Fatherland to one of the greatest demagogues of all time. I solemnly prophesy that this accursed man will cast our Reich into the abyss and bring inconceivable misery upon our nation. Future generations will curse you in your grave for your action. Erich Ludendorff to Paul von Hindenburg after he appointed Hitler to Chancellor (Hitler: 1889-1936 Hubris by Ian Kershaw )
Jewish Legalism is not my cup of tea; I favor coffee. Yet, from time to time, it is useful to remember the unjust fastidiousness of legalism.
In the morning of May 29, 2013, Israel’s Ministers Legislation Committee* approved the new Conscription Law, which enforces the draft of Ultra-Orthodox Jews, the bulk of whom are Haredim. Yair Lapid, leader of the party promoting the new law and second only to Netanyahu in political power, celebrated immediately with derogatory remarks towards Haredim. Yet, despite the law having passed the most critical step towards its approval, the Knesset won’t vote on it until August. Don’t roast a hyrax** yet, Mr. Lapid.
This year, in its 2013 Time 100, Time Magazine replaced Netanyahu with Lapid in the list of most influential people. Supporting this assessment, Meir Porush, from United Torah Judaism, said after Netanyahu’s new government was formed: “This is a puppet government that won’t last.” He explained that the government would be led by Lapid since Netanyahu’s days are over. Shortly afterwards, a political lightning hit the Knesset, and Lapid celebrated his victory. Haredim would be conscripted.
My Cup of Tea My English Cup of Tea
DJ Netanyahu Plays Lapid’s music
Yair Lapid celebrates elections victory In the background, his party’s logo The Origins of the Inquisition in Fifteenth-Century Spain
The current Israeli government is the oddest ever. Following the most unusual negotiation process the Knesset has ever witnessed, a ruling Prime Minister, who heads the largest party after the elections, found himself forced to obey an alliance of the meek.
In the current Israeli reality, that meant the settlers and the oligarchy of the wealthy. In the new Israeli map of power, Lapid represents the rich oligarchy, and Bennett represents the Zionist Settlers. Ultra-Orthodox Jews became their victims.
One must warn Germany of the most unbelievable condition demanded by Lapid on Netanyahu’s coalition, he wants to increase financial support to Holocaust survivors. Lapid’s torch (“Lapid” is Hebrew for “torch”) is setting afire not only proverbial gas chambers.
Unconvincing Protests in front of the IDF General Headquarters, Tel Aviv Are they bored and paid by the government to protest against Haredim?
Israel’s Numerus Clausus
The new law can’t be defined but as racist. Israel is imposing an inverse Numerus Clausus on Haredim. The Latin phrase for “closed number” was used many times in history to limit the number of Jewish students in universities. The new law introduces a malevolent twist in this discriminatory device.
According to the new law, everybody will be forced to reach the conscription office at age 17; failure to do that would be a criminal offence. Ultra-Orthodox Jews (Haredim and Hasidim) will get a delay in their service until they are 21. Out of the 8,000 Ultra-Orthodox Jews about to be recruited every year, 1,800 of them who have proven to be “persistent in their studies,” i.e. they haven’t dropped from the Yeshiva Jewish college, will be awarded a permanent release from service. The IDF will be given preference upon the others; if rejected by the IDF, they would go other State services.
Until now, the law looks reasonable. However, it included an inverse racial quota to the Heads of Yeshiva Colleges. If their colleges would fail to supply a given quota of conscripts, they would be financially sanctioned by the State, which would cut their budgets as per the percentage of failure. Heads of Yeshiva Colleges would have personal responsibility to give yearly reports to the State on their “harvest.” Could you imagine Germany passing such a law?
Winner Lapid, Loser Netanyahu
Lapid wasn’t happy with this victory. In a typically Israeli fashion, he needed to humiliate the opponent. Accordingly, the new law shortens the service to secular men, who will serve 32 months instead of 36. Secular women get punished; they will serve 28 months instead of 24. Playing guitar like a rock star and speaking like a cheap demagogue, Lapid slowly lowered his torch and set on fire a path of fuel leading to Israel’s heart.
A few days after the elections I read an astonishing interview given by a minister of the former government who stayed anonymous (Israeli Minister: “There will be a civilian revolution”). His ominous words regarding what will happen if the new government decides to recruit Haredim are becoming reality: “There will be protest rallies of thousands and tens of thousands on the streets, thousands of yeshiva students will fill up the prisons, the military police will run amok in Bnei-Brak [trapping those refusing recruitment in a town populated by Haredim], there will be a civilian revolution and andralomusia [from Greek, androloimosso, used here in the sense of chaos]. The worst thing is that those [Haredim] who go to the army now, will stop immediately.”
One of the first reactions to the new law came from Haim Valder, a Haredi leaving in Bnei-Brak, who said to newspaper Yediot Ahronot: “I know that this can cause giggling, but we giggle at Lapid’s thought that if Haim from Beni-Brak and Asher from Jerusalem [he mocks the condescending words of Lapid after his victory] will hold weapons in their hands things will become better here.” In recent months, he had compared Lapid to a Nazi several times.
The issue was summarized a long time ago in a different continent and by other people: “But when a long train of abuses and usurpations, pursuing invariably the same Object evinces a design to reduce them under absolute Despotism, it is their right, it is their duty, to throw off such Government” (from the Preamble to the United States Declaration of Independence). Mr. Lapid, is the IDF ready to deal with a civilian revolution?
** “Hyrax-eater” is a Hebrew idiom for “pagan;” hyrax is a non-kosher animal. “Ochel-Shfanim” in Hebrew, “ch” like in “loch.”
Roi Tov is a graduate—among others—of Tel Aviv University and the Weizmann Institute of Science. In addition to his memoir, Tov is published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, Molecular Physics and other scientific journals. He won various travel writing and photography awards.
In his writings, he tries to reveal life in Israel as a Christian Israel Defense Force (IDF) officer—from human rights violations to the use of an extensive network of underground agents. He was recognized first as a refugee and subsequently as political prisoner of Bolivia.