As you know, several Grad rockets were fired into Israel this morning from Gaza, ending the cease fire many hours prematurely and Israel responded by hitting several terrorist target in Gaza. This could mean Israel will face a prolonged war of attrition. And what would that mean for an Israel saddled with a large and rapidly growing haredi population that refuses to share the burden of defense and war?
As you know, several Grad rockets were fired into Israel this morning from Gaza, ending the cease fire many hours prematurely and Israel responded by hitting several terrorist target in Gaza. This could mean Israel will face a prolonged war of attrition.
If so, this could mean the IDF and Israel's security services will need to keep higher manpower levels for a prolonged period of time.
And this would put a large burden on Israeli society and the economy because many of those extra soldiers will be reservists who will have to leave their jobs and families to fight and to guard the borders.
In other words, the abnormal situation that now exists will be prolonged and broadened.
Not sharing in this burden are haredim, who continue to refuse to be drafted or serve in any way.
Haredi leaders are still openly and vehemently opposed to any haredi yeshiva students serving either in the IDF, special Israel Police units or in the civilian national service. The rabbis insist that all yeshiva-age haredim study full time in yeshiva at government expense without sharing any of the burden secular and other non-haredi Israeli must shoulder.
Every non-haredi Jewish family in Israel (and many of the Christian and Druze Israeli families, as well) know people serving in the IDF and most have family members who are currently on the front lines.
But most haredi families don't know anyone currently in the IDF and don't have anyone serving on the front lines – or anywhere else. For every one actual haredi – meaning not a ba'al teshuva or a convert or an ex-haredi or a right wing Zionist Orthodox Jew who has gone mostly 'black or a Sefardi from a traditional or Zionist Orthodox family – serving the IDF there are thousands who are not.
Even so, many haredim have very right-wing leanings and often want Israel and the IDF to take very militaristic actions – in other words, to fight wars for haredim haredim themselves refuse to fight.
What should Israel do with this goldbricking, selfish population?
What the current war has made clear is that the burden, as it’s called in Israel, of defending the country is so disproportionate that it can no longer be tolerated.
So what is the solution?
I think there is one harsh but necessary step that should be taken.
Haredim can’t simply be expelled or transferred to Poland.
But Israel can make life for noncompliant haredim much harder than it already is.
1. Cut off all government payments of any kind to any haredi family in which draft age males are not either serving in the IDF or in special police units.
Will this hurt little haredi children?
Yes, it will.
But it is the responsibility of haredi rabbis and haredi charities to raise money to make up the financial losses these families and these kids will suffer, because it is these rabbis who have ordered their followers not to serve in the IDF or in any other way. Give haredim six months notice and then cut off the money and keep it cut off, no matter how deep the poverty, until haredim start pulling their fair share of the load.
2. Cut off all government funding to any haredi school that does not teach the full core curriculum. The time should now be over where haredi yeshiva high school schools graduate thousands of students who cannot do simple math, know no science and can’t find The Netherlands or Costa Rica on a map.
3. If a rabbi’s followers don’t serve in the IDF, and especially if he has ordered them not to, do not allow the rabbi to draw a salary or receive any other compensation from the government, and make all new rabbinic hires – for state rabbinic courts, mashgiach positions, rabbinic court clerks, etc. – contingent on an applicant’s IDF service. If an applicant hasn’t served, he can’t be hired. Period.
Take these three harsh steps and hold to them and haredim will either enlist in the IDF or leave Israel.
If they do the latter, they become someone else’s problem.
If they stay and serve, they become a true part of Israeli society for the first time.
The status quo is no longer sustainable. That should be made perfectly clear to everyone – even to haredi rabbis and their followers.