“Are You Jewish? Have You Put On Tefillin Today?” Asking those questions of Diaspora Jews will now be the equivalent of serving in an IDF combat unit guarding Israel’s borders if Israel’s new draft law passes the Knesset, Israel’s parliament.
Chabad Missionaries To Be Exempted From Draft, Knesset Committee Rules
Shmarya Rosenberg • FailedMessiah.com
“Are You Jewish? Have You Put On Tefillin Today?”
Asking those questions of Diaspora Jews will now reportedly be the equivalent of serving in an IDF combat unit guarding Israel’s borders if Israel’s new draft law passes the Knesset, Israel’s parliament.
The Knesset committee writing the new draft law that was supposed to equalize military service in part by drafting most haredi yeshiva students into Israel’s military has decided to the new law should treat Chabad overseas missionary as national civilian service, Arutz Sheva reported today, thereby exempting many – if not all – Chabad yeshiva students from military service.
The idea was proposed by Member of Knesset Elazar Stern, a former IDF general, from Tzipi Livni’s Hatnua Party.
Stern’s proposal is reportedly limited to Chabad yeshiva students who work or volunteer for Chabad Houses in the Diaspora and is subject to limitations Arutz Sheva did not name.
Stern – who has often been criticized for what observers believe is his bizarre behavior – reportedly noted that Chabad sends 250-300 emissaries from Israel to serve around the world.
But Stern apparently did not deal with the fact that the main job of these emissaries is try to convert Jews to Chabad or other forms of Orthodoxy, and the government, by exempting Chabad emissaries from military service, is in effect supporting that activity while it fails to support any secular or non-Chabad equivalent.
Israelis traveling abroad often visit Chabad Houses in remote locations like Nepal for Shabbat meals and Passover seders, and often serve as Israeli gathering spots in times of crisis. Wealthy Israeli businessmen also rely on Chabad overseas – especially in Russia and parts of sub-Saharan Africa – for political and business contacts, and Israel’s government also sometimes refers Israelis traveling abroad in remote locations without an Israeli consulate or embassy who are in need of emergency assistance to local Chabad Houses. These all appear to make up the basis for Stern’s proposal.
Be that as it may, if the new draft law passes as currently formulated, no Chabad yeshiva students will apparently be required to serve in the IDF as long as they agree to temporarily serve as missionaries for Chabad overseas.
[Hat Tip: Joel Katz.]