The Jewish Response

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There is a Talmudic statement:Who can protest an injustice but does not is an accomplice to the act.

There is injustice and wrongness here, and it must be addressed.

Several years ago, there was a massive demonstration in Jerusalem against the proposed draft law. I fully supported the demonstration, not because of the draft, but because.of the criminalization of asking for a deferral to learn in a yeshiva (but not for musicians, soccer players, and so on). In the interim, the law was changed, and while there is some encouragement to join, any draftee can ask for a deferral. It is as simple as going to the draft offices, and signing a request for a deferral. In most cases, it can take less than 15 minutes.

The IDF does not want any soldier who is unwilling to join. It becomes a danger for the entire army if there are those who are totally opposed to service. The army is better served without them.

A yeshiva student has many options if they choose to serve; there are plenty of programs that allow yeshiva students to maintain their desired lifestyle, with special kosher food, extended time for prayers, set times for learning, and no contact with female soldiers. And at the same time – training in some much needed skills in the civilian marketplace for when their term of service is complete. I know several boys who went through this path, and have been trained as computer professionals, logistics specialists, analysts, and other professions.

But there is a group of extremists who decided that any cooperation with the army is tantamount to “giving up the faith”. These are the ones who have been protesting, who have been attacking soldiers, who have been desecrating G-d’s name with their actions. These are people who will protest at the drop of a hat (neglecting the Torah study that they hold so dear), but will not go to sign the request for a deferral.

These extremists have been responsible for attacks, both verbal and physical, against soldiers, especially religious soldiers. Gangs attacking soldiers on the street in religious areas, on buses and at events seems to be “the thing to do”

A few months ago, there was a gathering for religious soldiers in Jerusalem  – the army provides regular days when the religious soldiers can attend lectures, forums and classes – and the extremists found out about it. About a dozen gathered outside, chanting things like “You have lost your portion in the G-d of Israel!” and “You are no longer Jews!” to which the boys responded “Gevald!“(woe to us!). After a few minutes of this the soldiers. all graduates of fine Yeshivas, started singing and dancing around the extremists. It made the extremists look like absolute fools.

The Jewish response – joy and positive actions. These boys showed the world what the proper Jewish response is to this extremism.

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