PM: There’s a new haredi attitude toward the IDF

Netanyahu visits Nahal Haredi base to emphasize importance of haredi integration into army and then workforce.

January 12, 2011 02:49
2 minute read.
Netanyahu speaks to soldiers from Nahal Haredi

Netanyahu at nahal haredi base 311. (photo credit: Amos Ben-Gershom/GPO)


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Two days after the cabinet approved a plan to significantly increase the number of haredim in the IDF, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu went to a Nahal Haredi base Tuesday to emphasize the importance of haredi integration into the army and then the workforce.

In conversation with the soldiers, Netanyahu told a story about his grandfather, a student at the Brisk yeshiva, and how he had been mocked and beaten by hooligans one day at the city’s train station.

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“He lay bleeding in the mud and snow, and did not know if he would live. He said to himself, ‘What a shame that the sons of the Maccabees, the descendents of King David, lay in the mud without the ability to defend themselves.’” Netanyahu said his grandfather vowed that if he lived, he would go to Israel to “found a state and an army.”

“He was a yeshiva student, an outstanding mind,” the prime minister said. “He saw no contradiction. Faith is essential, but so is the sword.

How can we defend the Jewish people? How can we defend the Torah? With the strength of faith, certainly. But we must also wield the sword, the sword of David.”

Netanyahu called Nahal Haredi “an amazing combination” of three things: faith, defense and earning a livelihood. “I think this is a revolution,” he said.

The prime minister said he was impressed by what he had heard from the soldiers, and that there had been a “fundamental change” in haredi society. He added that he hoped the change would continue, and that within five years the number of IDF inductees from the haredi sector would double.

Netanyahu said he thought this trend “changes not only haredi society and its attitude to military service, but also society’s attitude to the haredi public. We want to unite our people.”

Though the event was closed to the press, the Prime Minister’s Office issued a statement quoting Sgt. Aharon Steinmetz, who said his path from the “black” yeshivot in Jerusalem to the army had been difficult and went against the wishes of his parents, who said he was destroying his family, although attitudes in the community had changed.

“When I go around on the street in Jerusalem in uniform, I feel great and I see the change,” Steinmetz said.

“There was friction in the past and I was asked to take off my uniform when I came home.Today, I am accepted.”

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