The tension around the Plesner Committee, which is currently debating alternatives to the Tal Law for drafting haredim into the IDF, is growing. We are hearing various reports, bits of information and countless commentaries, and it appears that anyone who can offer an opinion does not hesitate to do so. Yet it seems that there is broad agreement on one issue: The affair is heading towards explosion.
So this is the time to tell you, dear seculars – forget about it. Let us be. Give it up.
Forget about it, because there is no chance whatsoever that any kind of yeshiva boy will be heading to the draft office the day Israel’s government announces a haredi draft. It won’t happen, and we can assume that you too, deep in your heart, are aware of this fact.
Let us be, because maybe the time has come to discover that you have no chance to contend with people whose agents of influence and cultural icons – that is, the rabbis – view enlistment as a colossal disaster and make it clear that this is simply unacceptable.
Give it up, because both you and we are fed up with the meaningless debate, which is charged with emotion and endless frustration, on the question of “why haredim do not serve in the army.”
After all, the most frank and appropriate answer to the above question is: “Because we’re not interested.” Why? It’s almost irrelevant. If we say that the color of the uniform contradicts our faith, which happens to rely on blue, it will sound to you no less rational that the belief that learning and reciting ancient texts serves the people of Israel to the same extent that a Navy commando in Lebanon does.
It is impossible to argue or to produce a debate vis-à-vis someone who cannot accept the above. And after all, any haredi politician who uses this argument merely outrages you more.
Even if there are influential bodies in the haredi world who deep inside believe that the time has indeed come for change on the draft question, they will not have the public courage to openly declare it. The taboo around this issue has become a social haredi norm, and anyone who deviates from it may pay a heavy personal price: A less successful matchmaking partner (or none at all) and hostile reactions in one’s neighborhood. It is difficult or impossible to see a haredi public figure willing to sacrifice everything on the IDF altar.
Accommodate us, but also help yourselves. After all you too, dear seculars, are aware that the day a decision is taken on the forced draft of haredim, hundreds of thousands of them will hit the streets in demonstrations that will make the social protest look like an elementary school reunion. All our police forces will be preoccupied with dispersing the haredi Torah soldiers and clearing their hats from town squares.
Moreover, the battle you want to lead us all into will has immediate sociological implications for the haredi world: The radical haredim will grow stronger, the ultra-Orthodox Eda Haredit faction will flourish, and the military mob of the Shabbat protests will take all of us on a journey of self-destruction that even the moderate and sane among us – who have recently started to speak up – won’t be able to object to.
If you are indeed truly interested in the contribution of haredi youngsters, please invest your energy where they can truly contribute. Fight the unemployment and general ignorance spreading among young haredim. Teach them English, statistics, computer applications, research methods, social sciences and exact sciences. Encourage young haredim to turn to academia.
Try to produce haredi scientists, doctors, physicists, psychologists and economists. They will offer a return on the investment. The intellectual ability of these young haredim can lead Israel’s society and economy to huge achievements.
Yet for the time being, for heaven’s sake, forget about the issue of drafting the haredim. Nobody will be gaining from it.