Photo: Zoom 77
Uri Elitzur
Photo: Zoom 77

The law and the plasticine

MK Pines seeks to annul Tal Law because he wants to maintain seculars' superiority

I am trying to understand why everyone keeps on attacking the Tal Law, and of all people, those who swear every day in the name of the rule of law. You see, this is the law. It has been argued and debated for months. It would not have been legislated had it not been for the pressure exerted by the High Court of Justice, which forced the Knesset to make a decision one way or the other, rather than leave the issue unsettled. You see, the government and the Knesset were compelled to make a decision, under the pressure of the court and demonstrations and stickers and criticism in the press. And this is what they decided.


The entire democratic process was carried out here at its best: A public struggle, a huge dispute, the press, the High Court, a political storm, on the verge of a crisis – and eventually they gave up and this is the consequence. So there is a decision. The result of the dispute was the Tal Law.


So how wise is it to rise every few months and suggest that it be annulled? Supposing you succeeded, you had a majority in the Knesset for a moment, and you cancelled it. In several months there will be a moment of a majority in the Knesset in favor of the other side. So they will annul the annulment, and you will annul the annulment of the annulment, and thus we will dance one step forward and one step backwards indefinitely?


The rule of law means that there is some decision making mechanism in a public dispute, and the moment the dispute has been settled and there is a law, everyone works to implement the law. One can come after five or six years and reexamine it and propose changes in light of the lessons, but reopening the entire argument every other day means turning the book of law into plasticine.


Digging in mud

The more difficult question, however, is the practical one. Does Knesset Member Ophir Pines-Paz believe that annulling the law will lead to a mass enlistment of haredim to the IDF? Is the State capable of enforcing the draft on an entire population which is not interested in enlisting? Will the Military Police enter the yeshivot and forcibly drag 30,000 students? Is the army interested in this? Can it absorb them?


It is clear to everyone that the inequality here is crying out loud, that there is also a lie here getting entangled and dirty. This is not really "Torato Emunato" ("Torah is his profession"). This is an entire population which does not serve in the IDF, those who study and those who don’t study. And they have no other choice but to lie. What will a 30-year-old haredi man who does not feel like sitting in a yeshiva all day and has a wife and children to provide for, do? He is not 18 years old. He is already entangled in the mud and the bluff created by the State and his sector together. What should he do now, join the Golani Brigade? He does what his society usually does: Finds a rabbi to sign a false statement that he is studying, and goes to work illegally in some place in the margins of the ultra-Orthodox economy, for black money, without rights, without a pension plan and without paying taxes.


Is this good for the State? Is this good for him? Is it more just than allowing this man to pull out of this circle of lies and poverty he has been introduced into since the moment he was born? It is clear that the State on the one side and the haredi population from the other side are caught up in some type of mud which both sides would like to be pulled out of. And a person like Ophir Pines should know that if you are stuck in the mud, wildly pushing the gas pedal will not pull you out, but on the contrary: The more you push, the deeper you dig in.


The Tal Law is some kind of a way out, a long way which allows us to start by changing the norms and shocking the required foundations inside the haredi population, so that in 20 or 30 years most of its men will be working people, educated people and professionals, who contribute to the economy, and partly, one way or another, also serve in the army, both in compulsory and reserve service.


The lady and the peddler

There are hundreds of haredi women today succeeding in the high-tech industry. Some of them even have an academic degree. This is a revolution which will intensify. What do the husbands of these talented women do? They are messengers in grocery stores, or buy and sell all kinds of goods in the house's backyard, or drive old transit vehicles which they use to drive children to Talmud Torah schools and to run errands in the evening.


Some of them are beggars. Really. Those who pray at the shtiblach of the haredi neighborhoods know that during the Morning Prayer, some 20 to 30 "fund raisers" will visit the place. Some are well dressed and look young and talented. They all pretend to be raising funds for some charity project, but the crowd donates without asking questions, knowing that some of them are collecting money for themselves.


Why? Can't a wise person like MK Pines understand that annulling the Tal Law will not cancel the entrapment, will not draft the haredim and will not bring about justice? Does he not know that "full gas" in the mud only makes you dig in deeper? Does he not understand that a dispute cannot be reopened again and again after it has already been settled?


My impression is that he knows. My suspicion is that Ophir Pines, as a proverb – and not just him personally – knows that the problem will not be solved his way, and that's what he wants. He knows that with his way the haredim will not serve in the IDF, and that's what he wants. He knows that through the Tal Law route the gap will begin to close, and that's what he doesn’t want. He doesn’t want haredi doctors or haredi engineers, or – God forbid – a haredi regiment commander. He wants to keep the dispute bubbling and the wound open and his superiority in all fields.


פרסום ראשון: 03.30.08, 23:27
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