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  • Writer's pictureRabbi David Gerber

April 1st: An Historic Day (Potentially)

Updated: Mar 31

The End of Religious Draft Exemptions?

Most Jewish Israelis are expected to spend two or three years serving in the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF), followed by a term as a reservist. The one exception to this rule are Jews who are part of the Haredi, or "ultra-orthodox", group.


While the IDF has orthodox command units, only a small percentage of the Haredim actually serve. This is because they receive a blanket deferment if they study in a yeshiva. Haredi men can defer their IDF enrollment all the way until they reach the age at which they become ineligible for the draft--all the while receiving government funds to support their families.


This was acceptable back when the Haredim were a much smaller percentage of Israel's population. But their community is growing, taking exponential resources from public funds while offering no tangible contribution to society.


Last year, the Israeli Supreme Court determined these blanket exceptions are discriminatory, and a deadline to implement a Haredi draft was set at April 1st.


There are a few ways this could play out:


  1. The ultra-orthodox political parties withdraw from the government in protest, creating the need for immediate elections.

  2. Netanyahu's party comes up with a way to delay or defer implementation of the Haredi draft (though initial requests for more time have been denied).

  3. The exemption ends, giving the IDF more soldiers and denying funds to the ultra-orthodox.

I have long been opposed to the draft exemption. I believe it is truly unfair that the ultra-orthodox should enjoy the safety, security, and economic welfare that the State of Israel provides, without offering any contribution.


To those who say the study of Torah is as important as serving in the IDF, I leave you with the first comic I have ever created, based on a Midrash in the Talmud:

moses has a religious draft exemption

 

My New Favorite Pastime

Since we're one day into the baseball season and already I'm frustrated with the Cardinals, I have to find my entertainment elsewhere. If you are in a similar position, I recommend watching Code Pink confront members of Congress about the War in Gaza.


Code Pink is an extreme organization that supports Hamas and rejects Zionism. I couldn't find a specific link to these interactions, but I love watching Democrats and Republicans alike rebuke these protesters. Do some googling...it's worth it.


 

Wisdom from Churchill

Last week I spent time in Kibbutz Be'eri, one of the first areas invaded by Hamas on Oct. 7th. So many of the people who live in the south are peaceniks. They are some of the most pro-peace activists in Israel. However, when Hamas came to murder them, it didn't matter how often they'd criticized the Israeli government, or their support for a two-state solution, or their love for Palestinians.

Being surrounded by the destruction at Kibbutz Be'eri made me think of this quote from Winston Churchill:

"An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last."
 

It's Not Good to Hold On to Snark as We Enter Shabbat...

...So I'm going to let it out here.


This chart says it all. All the virtue-signaling, keyboard activism, and propaganda can't hide the truth. There is death, destruction, and genocide in the Middle East, but it's not coming from Israel:


nobody cares unless israel is involved

 

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