Haredi national service enlistment 390.
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
It’s time to stop repeating the false mantra that implies – or blatantly states
– that the haredim (ultra- Orthodox) are bloodsucking draft-dodgers who take
everything they can from the state without giving anything in
This may be true of some haredim. It certainly isn’t true of all
While some of them don’t work, a lot of them do. While many
avoid army service, there are haredim who have served in the IDF and others who
are currently serving in the IDF, even though there may be some conflict with
To say that haredim do not contribute to the community
is simply an outright lie. Non-profit organizations such as Hatzola, Ezer
Mezion, Ezra LeMarpe and Meir Panim are among many organizations that were
founded by haredim, are largely funded by haredim and have a large corps of
haredi volunteers, while the services provided by these organizations are not
limited to haredim but embrace the whole population regardless of religious or
In addition, every haredi community has several
gemachs – charitable foundations that provide wedding dresses for poor brides,
household goods for a newly married couple in economic distress, baby wear,
meals, new shoes for children just before Pessah, housing at symbolic rentals,
and any number of other services.
Walking through haredi neighborhoods
the passer-by can often read gemach notices in which people are asked to
contribute furniture and clothing they no longer need to people who can make use
The wider public may be unaware of these things because haredim
are so frequently maligned in the media, in the Knesset and even in
WHAT IS the main reason that leaders of the haredi and Arab
communities are fighting the draft whether it be for military or civilian
national service? It isn’t because they don’t want to contribute.
because they don’t want to be forced to contribute under a direct or indirect
Arabs are obviously reluctant to join the army in
case they will be called upon to fight their brothers. Many more would willingly
do national service in a civilian framework if the army was totally removed from
their national service call-up. In other words, if a specific national service
unit for minorities was set up in consultation with the minority communities so
as not to compromise their values, the national service issue for minorities
could probably be resolved.
Something similar could be done with regard
to haredim, with the exception that they be given a choice as to whether they
want to serve in the IDF or whether they prefer civilian national service. It
should also be explained to them by people from their own communities that they
or their parents or grandparents would not have come to Israel in such large
numbers if the Zionists whom they despise so much had not paved the
How many haredim lived in the Land of Israel under the Turks and
under the British? Why were there so few compared to the tens of thousands who
live in Israel today? Whether they like to admit it or not, it was because the
Zionists made it relatively safe for them to live here.
What would happen
to them if there was no IDF to safeguard the security of the nation? On the
other side of the coin, secular Jews should be aware that without the proof of
Biblical history, Jews have no specific right to this land. Would there have
been a Balfour Declaration or a vote by the United Nations in favor of a state
for the Jewish people without the backing of the Bible?
The Dreyfus case,
pogroms and the Holocaust were insufficient reasons in themselves for the world
to accept the establishment of a Jewish State. Jews are not the only people who
have been the victims of horrendous genocide – but in the overwhelming majority
of cases, survivors of such genocides do not set up a sovereign state of their
The Constitution of the Jewish people is set down in the 613
statutes and precepts in the Bible.
Even though they may not practice any
form of religion, secularists have to be aware of what gives them the right to
be here – and that extends way beyond a United Nations
Without dialogue, the two sides will never learn to
understand and respect each other.
There are many non-accusatory questions
that both sides should ask, because without the answers they will remain forever