Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Yedidya Atlas: Haredi Jews in the IDF is a Blessing for Israel

By: Yedidya Atlas

The other day I received an email from a friend in Canada to which he attached an article written last week by a Nathan Hersh in the Jewish World blogger section of Haaretz. The article, entitled: “Ultra-Orthodox Jews in the IDF would be a disaster for Israel” and a sub-headline: “When Haredis put the commands of their religious leaders ahead of those of their officers, the Israel Defense Forces will be incapable of fulfilling its ultimate purpose: to protect the Jewish state.”

My friend suggested I should respond to what he felt was a confused and biased article about Haredi military service. I read Mr. Hersh’s article and my friend was right. Mr. Hersh, whom I’ve never met, and whom I assume is a generally considerate and intelligent fellow, wore his personal politics and abject ignorance of Judaism and religious people on his sleeve as he penned his rather confused blog.

He writes that during his army service he was stationed somewhere in Judea and Samaria and one of “the settlers” – one of those who brought hot tea to the soldiers guarding on cold nights – approached one of Mr. Hersh’s fellow soldiers, a religious person himself (unlike Mr. Hersh), engaged him in conversation, discovered they were distantly related (how Jewish), and “eventually the settler asked my friend (the religious soldier) if he would be ready when the time comes,” Mr. Hersh relates, “to refuse orders.” According to Mr. Hersh, “He was referring to orders to dismantle and relocate settlements deemed illegal under Israeli law.”

Apparently Mr. Hersh, who clearly identifies with the left side of the political spectrum (to which he is entitled to do, of course), appears overly concerned with the IDF’s capability to carry out orders to dismantle settlements – instead of the police which is the official State organization to implement court orders against civilians – , and less so with the actual and officially designated task of the army – to defend the citizens and land of Israel from attack by Arab armies and terrorists who comprise our actual enemies.

Nonetheless, Mr. Hersh brings this subject as an introduction to his main point: “The army is already engaged in a struggle against emboldened religiousness,” he writes. “Haredim have proven that the rabbi’s word comes before those of military commanders.” I realize Mr. Hersh must mean well, but it is at this point where his ignorance shows. First the army is not “engaged in a struggle against emboldened religiousness” whatever that means, and he obviously is clueless regarding who is identified as a “Haredi” and who is merely “religious” or, if you will, identified as a “Dati-Leumi” (National-Religious”) soldier. Despite Mr. Hersh’s declaration that “Haredim have proven that the rabbi’s word comes before those of military commanders,” he not only fails to prove his case or even give one concrete example, he is not referring to “Haredim” but “Dati-Leumi” soldiers which will become evident by his next paragraphs.
Continue reading Haredi Jews in the IDF is a Blessing for Israel

(The author, like Mr. Hersh, served and serves in combat units, but unlike Mr. Hersh is an officer currently with the rank of Lt. Colonel in the IDF reserves.)

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