Tuesday, January 09, 2007

What Goes Around Comes Around

Haaretz has an article this morning about the increase in numbers of draft deferrments by national religious young men, who are deciding to study in what we call "yeshiva gavoha" versus in "yeshivat hesder". Haaretz uses the term "Ultra-Orthodox" to describe the former, although this is not really accurate in this particular context. What this means practically, is that there will be less men who will actually go into the army in two years time (when the students entering the Hesder program now do their army service). Receiving a deferrment by studying in a yeshiva gavoah means that this deferrment in not defined to specific amount of time.

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.

17 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

My son is in 12th grade, and he doesn't want to do hesder.But he does want to go to the army. I'm sure what you write is a big factor, but there are also many boys asking for deferments because they will be learning in a yeshiva gevoha or mechina only for one or two years as an alternative to hesder.

10:46 AM, January 09, 2007  
Blogger Jerusalem Joe said...

The actual numbers are so small - half a percent rise in such enrollment translating to two hundred people - that I'm not sure it's such an issue.
The question is, what part of the dati-leumi recruits this represents, a number which haaretz doesn't give the reader.Lacking that information, how can we form any rational judgment?
like most of haaretz reports, we are presented only with partial facts, surrounded by innuendo, slander and rumours, which, as usual, are directed against religious Jews, and especially settlers.
Nothing new here.

11:13 AM, January 09, 2007  
Anonymous Rafi G said...

if that is correct, it is a troubling, but understandable phenomenon. Aside from the disengagement that the young men do not want to take part in so they avoid service, look at all the corruption being found in government.

When I see what is going on, I think to myself that I do not want to lay my life on the line for these lowlifes who might not have national interests in mind when they go to war (for example) but might be personal...

11:59 AM, January 09, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Rafi, my son is almost 17 and it's frightening. My friend has a son the same age and says that if he gets into a combat unit they may consider leaving the country. I shouldn't talk because it's unlikely my son will end up in combat but what if everyone had that attitude?

1:11 PM, January 09, 2007  
Blogger bec said...

i really hope that you're right:
"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."
israel's army has always (up until the events you've mentioned) been something of which to be proud, and i really would hate to see it destroy its reputation due to the stupidity of the current government.

7:09 AM, January 10, 2007  
Blogger westbankmama said...

mother in israel - you are right, and many boys just pick a yeshiva gavoah because they really want to learn there, and plan to go in later. Then again, many pick a place like that so that they can put off making the decision on whether to go in at all

jerusalemjoe - the numbers for this particular year are small, but this statistic does not reflect the numbers of guys who would have stoppped getting their deferrment and gone in by now. It also doesn't take into consideration the future numbers - which will be larger, in my opinion

rafi - the corruption doesn't help either, I am sure

bec - I really hope this happens

7:47 AM, January 10, 2007  
Blogger Jerusalem Joe said...

i hate it when the msm messes with numbers like this, so excuse for bringing up another point - but how significant is a five percent fluctuation?
what is the annual average standard fluctuation in defferment rates? does it usually go up or down and by how much?Is there really a pattern?
for that matter what is the rate of draft-dodging in other sectors? has it gone up or down? In years past (or this year) have there been significant fluctuations in that respect in various communities that are not religious and zionist? why haven't we heard about this?
Where is the headline "draft-dodging in ramat-aviv reaches new heights due to anti-zionist incitement in school system" or something like that?
really, haaretz just keeps dishing this crap, and it's not even fresh crap, just the same old crap day after day year after year - don't people ever get sick of it?

10:49 AM, January 10, 2007  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am trying to educate my children that they SHOULD serve, but on the day they are drafted they should bring a written statement saying that as religious Jews, their first allegiance in to Hashem, and they will never obey an order contrary to Halacha.

Since my eldest son is only 11 years old, I suspect much will happen until he is drafted, but I think this path is the one that holds the most promise for Am Yisrael; we WANT to serve our country, but Hashem is always our top commander. And if thousands of soldiers made that statement, the army would be a very different place.

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