Yair Golan ‘misinformed’ over claims haredi IDF battalion not successful

“If a youth returns home without the culture he grew up in his brothers will never enlist and that is what will kill this positive process."

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July 8, 2019 20:41
3 minute read.
ormer Deputy Chief of Staff Maj. Gen. (res.) Yair Golan

ormer Deputy Chief of Staff Maj. Gen. (res.) Yair Golan. (photo credit: YISSACHAR RUAS)

Representatives of the IDF Netzah Yehuda haredi battalion rejected claims by former IDF deputy chief of staff Maj.-Gen. (res.) Yair Golan that the unit is “unsuccessful,” and said that he had been “misinformed.”

Golan, No. 2 on Ehud Barak’s Israeli Democratic Party, said on Sunday that Netzah Yehuda was not a successful model for integrating ultra-Orthodox men into the army, since a battalion was too large to afford familiarity and integration with the diversity of IDF soldiers.

He said that the desired model should be for ultra-Orthodox companies, a smaller unit than a battalion, along the lines of the Tomer company in the Givati Brigade and the Hetz company in the Paratroopers Brigade.

“The most common mistake is to try and implement the ‘melting pot’ model [of the IDF] and to assimilate the haredi companies into the IDF, when this is the exact recipe for failure for integrating ultra-Orthodox men into the army,” Yossi Levi, director of the Netzah Yehuda NGO, which established and assists the Netzah Yehuda IDF unit, said on Monday.

The most serious concern of the ultra-Orthodox rabbinic leadership regarding IDF service is not ideological, but rather the possibility that ultra-Orthodox young men will become irreligious during their army service due to exposure to a secular world they are unprepared to deal with.

“If a youth returns home without the culture he grew up in, his brothers will never enlist and that is what will kill this positive process,” said Levi.

He noted that the Netzah Yehuda NGO is the only authorized body to provide services to haredi IDF units, including Tomer and Hetz, and that the organization was therefore “objective” in its claims that both models were equally successful.

“The model of a haredi battalion is no less successful than other haredi IDF tracks, and the general [Golan] is being informed by organizations operating in contravention of the IDF regulations and has therefore received erroneous information.”

Speaking to The Jerusalem Post, Levi also rejected claims, not made by Golan, that large numbers of recruits to Netzah Yehuda are not haredi.

He said that the unit had a maximum quota of 30% for soldiers from the conservative wing of the religious-Zionist community, and that all other recruits were from the haredi community, albeit from across the spectrum of its various sub-sectors.

Speaking at a conference of the Israel Democracy Institute on Monday on ultra-Orthodox enlistment in the IDF, Golan said that the ideal solution is to operate haredi companies, which are smaller than battalions and afford greater integration into the IDF and closeness with the diverse communities that serve in the army.

“Netzah Yehuda in my opinion is not successful,” Golan said. “We are learning more and more that if we want integration [of different societal sectors in the IDF], then it is preferable to have sector-designated companies than battalions. Sectoral battalions do not form this unity and familiarity, and they place a heavy burden on the IDF to maintain such a framework in the long term.”

Golan also commented that “equality” in the share of the military burden was not an absolute concept, and that the idea should be approached with moderation.

He said that although he was not opposed to legislation requiring greater haredi enlistment to the IDF, such a law should allow for the cultural and societal changes under way within the haredi community to blossom naturally.

“Even legislation requires a long-term process that should be approached with moderation, consideration, and most important, under the radar,” he said. “The more hidden these processes are, the better.”


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