What Goes Around Comes Around
The army officials seem to be surprised by this, because the numbers of religious men in the army who refused orders during the disengagement was low. They made all kinds of assumptions based on this statistic which were innacurate - including thinking that the reaction to the disengagement would "just blow over". Anyone living in our communities knows differently.
One quote in the article is telling, and shows how there are those in the army who really don't understand what is going on on the ground. "Senior army sources say that they [draft deferrers, ed.] are from the extremist fringe of Yesha....".
WRONG, and just wishful thinking on the army's part.
I live in what is considered a "tzfoni" yishuv. (For those unfamiliar, there are yishuvim which are considered very "suburban", and are mocked as if they are like neighborhoods in north Tel-Aviv, hence the name tzfoni, which means north. This is in contrast to the very "idealistic" yishuvim, like the ones near Schem and near Hebron). Most of the young men in my yishuv who had to choose which path to take in terms of army service leading right up to and after the disengagement, have chosen the yeshiva gavoah option. They are disgusted with how the army took part in the uprooting of their friends and relatives, and although they see the importance of serving, they do not want to be put into the terrible position of having to choose between uprooting others from their homes, or going to jail for refusing. The way the army handled (or mishandled, as the case may be) the war in Lebanon last summer also did not help things. The stories about the lack of proper equipment and the confusion and mistakes made by the army during the summer, in addition to Olmert's stupid statement about the success of the war paving the way for more disengagements, has made many very wary of joining up.
Another issue giving these young men pause are the stories coming out about Hesder guys being "abused" by some of their non-religious officers. Just a few weeks ago I read about a particular group whose officer was formerly religious and who was taking out his personal antipathy to religious people on them (forcing them to break Shabbat when not really necessary, and giving them a hard time about praying, again, when the time taken out for this was not essential). There seem to be too many officers in the IDF with chips on their shoulders regarding the Hesder recruits.
Everyone in Israel loses because of this terrible situation. These are very fine and idealistic young men, who are self-disciplined and who would make excellent soldiers. The statistics from this past summer, showing the disproportionate numbers of soldiers killed who were from kibbutzim and from yishuvim, attest to the bravery of those who served before them.
For a country surrounded by enemies, which depends on its army for its very survival, it is a great shame that this talented pool of young men has found no choice but to avoid their service. Perhaps with new leadership, both in the country as a whole and in the IDF in particular, some of the wounds can be healed, and in the future these young men will then join up.