Israel’s Tal Law, which in effect legalizes Haredi draft dodging, was ruled unconstitutional by Israel’s High Court of Justice last February. But in a decision seemingly found only in Israel (and other countries whose political system strongly resembles the one portrayed in Woody Allen’s “Bananas”) the unconstitutionality of the Tal Law didn’t mean it had to be discarded immediately. Instead, the court has allowed the law to remain in place for months until it reaches its expiration date at 11:59:59 on July 31. Never mind that the milk is very sour. Israelis are forced to drink it—until it is mercifully gone.
Politicians are spending the last several weeks of this court-ordered grace period trying to come up with a new solution. Haredi leaders insist that no Haredim be drafted and have threatened mass riots, violence and civil disobedience if non-Haredim don’t agree to their demands.
Most rank and file Israelis greatly resent the current reality in which they risk their own lives, send their children out to war, fight and sometimes die to protect the country while Haredim sip tea, discuss a little Talmud and gossip in yeshiva study halls—and collect government stipends and welfare checks to help pay for it.
Writing in Ynet, Haredi pundit Eliezer Hayon attempts to address this crisis in what he thinks is a clever way:
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.…
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.…radical haredim will grow stronger…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 [Haredim] – who have recently started to speak up – won’t be able to object to.
In other words, reality isn’t reality. If Haredim say the sky is green and the grass under their feet is blue, then so it is. And any attempt by non-Haredim to point out or change these errors will be met with a giant Haredi farting sound followed by a prolonged, violence-filled tantrum.
Hayon wants you know that Haredi leaders and Haredi society are really two-year-olds, upset that they can’t have ice cream for breakfast and willing to scream, throw things and break whatever they can until the adults in the house surrender and give it to them.
But for all kinds of reasons, we can’t give in. We have to act like adults and educate these children.
If Haredim riot, arrest them. If they dodge the draft, jail them. Then sanction them. Let Haredi draft dodgers carry a financial mark of Cain for the rest of their lives. Cut off state funding to all yeshivot whose rabbis encourage draft dodging. Do the same for any state-funded rabbi who advocates, endorses or enables it.
Israel’s terrible twos must finally be taught that tantrums and circular reasoning do not adults make.