An anonymous rightist donor announced last week that he will hand over NIS 22,000 (roughly $6,000) as a reward for the two Shimshon Battalion soldiers who held up signs against the evacuation of a West Bank outpost during their pledge-of-allegiance ceremony at Jerusalem’s Western Wall.
The soldiers were sentenced to 20 days in military prison and were dismissed from the Kfir Brigade.
The above-mentioned reward is of course a not too gentle attempt to stick a finger in our eye, yet it may not even fall under the law that prevents people from making money by committing an illegal act.
However, this is not the problem here. The problem is the glance.
Because right now there is a small sideways glance, a cautious one, which every secular platoon commander is currently directing at any religious soldiers arriving in his unit. Can they be trusted? The glance says. Can I be certain that they will obey my orders?
Will they embarrass me during the pledge-of-allegiance ceremony? The commander will be thinking. Will they not put an end to my military career at the next charged incident? Are we truly part of the same army, or are they also serving under the command of some rabbi unfamiliar to me? Are they truly my soldiers, or are they only my soldiers as long as some conditions are met?
And this is not fair.
It is not fair towards the tens of thousands of religious soldiers, the good fighters and good people who joined the army with a desire to serve. The people who are loyal to the State and to their platoon, the people who want others to believe in them and believe them.
Yet just because of some people who think they are being very clever, these good people will be getting that glance now. The glance they don’t deserve.