A 37-year-old deputy battalion commander in the IDF reserves is mad as hell, and he is not going to take it any longer. He has already served more than a month of reserve duty this year alone, with more duty on the near horizon. And, next year won't be any easier:
Deputy Chief of Staff, Maj. Gen. Moshe Kaplinsky, said on Wednesday that due to the army's attempts to improve itself after the Second Lebanon War the reserves have been heavily burdened. Kaplinsky said that next year would also see reservists contributing many days to training and service.
And all of this is without a war or a major pullback from the West Bank. If either event takes place, he's on the front lines until the war or the withdrawal is over.
He's been in the reserves for 16 years. He has almost lost jobs because of time spent in reserve duty. His family life has been disrupted. He, like so many other Israelis, give everything, give until it hurts, to protect the country and their families.
This deputy battalion commander is not mad because of all that. He is fighting mad for another reason – haredim who do not serve in the army.
Yesterday, the Knesset's Defense and Foreign Affairs
Committee recommended the Tal Law – the piece of legislation that allows haredim to skip army service – be extended by an additional five years.
Disgusted that haredim are exempted from service while, at the same time reservists are burdened with many extra days away from their families and jobs, the deputy battalion commander took his ranks (bars in American parlance, denoting rank) from his uniform and sent them by mail along with a letter of resignation to a former colleague of mine, Tzahi Hanegbi, the head of the Knesset committee.
In other words, he resigned his commission. The deputy battalion commander wrote to the Knesset committee:
"I am handing in my ranks and ID to make it clear to you all that I have no intention of being the nation's sucker. I won't serve in the reserves any longer and if I am called up, I would rather be locked up," [he] wrote.
"Your vote indicates that there is no longer room for equality in shouldering the burden, especially during a year like this one, which has been especially difficult for the reserves. At such a time when we are under constant threat of another war, your vote is testimony to your lack of respect for reserve soldiers," he wrote.…
"This loss of values … has made you unfit to even shine the shoes of the last soldier in my battalion. You should be ashamed of yourselves."
Why does the Knesset keep giving haredim a free pass? That's simple. Because political parties like Likud, Kadima and Labor need the votes of haredi political parties like Shas and United Torah Judaism to remain in power.
But why do haredim keep demanding this special treatment, special treatment that unfairly burdens so many non-haredim? Because they can. And because they do not care about the rest of us.
Haredim claim their Torah study "protects" Israel. Some fight with guns, they say, we fight with books.
But these are not wars of choice but rather absolute national defense; no one is exempted (except for a tiny number of individuals based on individual exemptions having nothing to do with Torah study). When someone comes to kill you the proper response is not to daven ma'ariv or shteig over a gemara.
And certainly, when non-haredim suffer like this good soldier has suffered, the proper response should be to relieve his burden by serving in the IDF.
Of course, haredim will not do this. They will continue to sit in poverty and darkness, confident that the state will always cough up money, set asides and exemptions in the end.
And so it will be, until the day comes that many deputy battalion commanders, their soldiers and their superiors refuse to let it continue. And I think most of you can see where that will lead.