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IDF battles Jewish Orthodoxy

one of them which were with Jesus stretched out his hand, and drew his sword, and struck a servant of the high priest's, and smote off his ear. Then said Jesus unto him, Put up again thy sword into his place: for all they that take the sword shall perish with the sword.—Matthew 26:51-52



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Sheer arrogance of power; humanist politicians drunk with power can be seen these days in Israel posing as rock stars. "You do what we order, and we don't stop at the red lights," they say while castrating all those who are different. Secular-Jewish politicians are above the law, and the People are supposed to applaud and shut up. The results of the recent elections proved them wrong; quietly, on February 4, a realignment of the Jewish Orthodoxy in Israel started with a dramatic encounter between ultra-Orthodox and Religious-Zionists. Netanyahu and Lapid—blind to reality—keep dancing to the sound of humanist drums. Israel's odd duality is about to hit back at the secular State.

Israel, Asia

Asian countries closely follow the definition of nation-states. "State" is a political and geopolitical entity; "nation" is a cultural and/or ethnic entity. The term "nation-state" implies that the two coincide geographically. The clear exception to this are countries created by colonial masters. Since their artificial creation, most of them suffer from internal political conflicts. Iraq, a conglomerate of Sunni, Shia and Kurd territories is a good example; Kurds living there are Iraqi citizens, but they have been systematically discriminated against, and have not renounced their nationalistic desires. The recent creation of the autonomous Iraqi Kurdistan is proof of the problem created by these unnatural contraptions. Israel is another good example; its definition as a nation-state was cemented by the Law of Return, which awards automatic citizenship to every Jew upon arrival. Despite that, the State is led by secular Jews, who were sanctioned by the Orthodoxy in an unholy deal. Traditionally, the Jewish Orthodoxy believed that their Godly redemption would arrive in two stages. The early stage is called “Messiah Son of Joseph,” and would include the physical stages of bringing the Jewish people together; this stage is symbolized by a bull. The second stage is the “Messiah Son of David,” when a spiritual Messiah would restore the Kingdom of God. This stage is symbolized by a donkey; Christian readers will immediately recognize Jesus' triumphal entry into Jerusalem riding on a donkey (John 12:12-16). In the 19th Century, Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook, was one of the Orthodox Jews who created the basis of cooperation between Zionists and Orthodoxy. He defined what is known as "Hamoro shel Mashiah" ("Messiah's Donkey" in Hebrew). He claimed that the secular Jews (the Zionists) could take the place of “Messiah Son of Joseph” as a collective entity, creating the base that would allow the Orthodox Jews to produce the "Messiah Son of David" in the new and secular state. The political alliance produced a state accepted by most Jews; yet a vast cultural gap still exists between Orthodox and Humanist secular Jews.


Incarnate Leadership

The Arrogance of Youth

The Arrogance of Youth
The Good Book on Leadership

The most visible social result of this deal was the creation of the "Kippot Srugot" ("handwoven skullcaps," as opposed to the black skullcaps of Orthodox Jews) group, also known in Hebrew as the “nationalistic religious” people, to whom most settlers in the West Bank belong. They couldn’t exist prior to the alliance. Politically, their main leader after the elections is Naftali Bennet, who leads the Jewish Home, has 10% of the seats in the new Knesset, and is likely to be part of the next government. Yet, the "Unholy Deal" was a temporary alliance, not a merger. Less than two centuries after its formation, serious cracks have appeared. Secular Jews wanted to become more Western than Westerners while Orthodoxy keeps behaving as a proper nation.

A striking difference between the two groups is the way their politicians behave. In the West, politicians are expected "to lead" their people. It is never clear what that means. "Lead" to where? "Lead" to what? Don't expect practical answers in their speeches; don't expect to find any practical way of measuring their performance. Their system is defined to facilitate lies. In contrast, Asian leaders are expected "to take care" of their electorate. There is no clearer evidence that Christianity is an Asian religion, it couldn't have appeared anywhere else; Jesus is portrayed in the Bible as the Good Shepherd who takes care of the people. Jewish Orthodoxy behaves to some extent in this fashion while Jewish secularism is busy "leading the people" to perdition. In 2013, this leadership is failing to see the crack under their feet. Yair Lapid, who leads the second largest party in the Knesset, was elected due to his preaching of "Enrollment for All," as his father Tommy did before him. His party is fanatically anti-religious and plays on the secular people's dislike of the exemption from military service given to Yeshiva students.

Yair Lapid celebrates

Yair Lapid celebrates elections victory | ... a bit too early


Jewish Orthodoxy and the Army

On August 22, 1999, the then Prime Minister and Defense Minister Ehud Barak appointed the Tal Committee, which dealt with the special exemption from mandatory military service in the IDF given to ultra-Orthodox Jews (Haredim and Hasidim). It was headed by retired Justice Tzvi Tal; thus it was named after him. On July 23, 2002, the Tal Law, based on the committee results, was passed in the Knesset. It enabled the continuation of the IDF service-exempt given to yeshiva members ("yeshiva" means "sitting" in Hebrew; it is the name of Jewish religious colleges). At the age of 22, yeshiva members would receive a year of decision in which they would need to choose to continue their studies or to go to work. Those who choose to go out of the yeshiva and work would need to choose between a minimalist army service of four months, and then reserve duties according to the army's needs, or a civilian service of one year. The service would be done in special IDF units organized according to religious needs, like Nahal Battalion 97 (the IDF has several ethnic units, see Explosion in Sinai).

Secular Jews opposed the law, claiming that it discriminated against them by being forcing them (by default because they don't get a similar exemption) to serve at least three years in the IDF. Yet, using half-hidden laws, secular Jews can also get service exemptions. In 2005, the State admitted in a response to a bagatz+ petition, that the Tal Law had failed to change enlistment practices of Orthodox Jews. Back then, only a few dozen ultra-Orthodox Jews enlisted in the army as a result of the law; by the beginning of 2012, the number was still below 900. In 1974, only 2.4% of high school graduates about to enroll in the IDF were exempt because they were yeshiva members. In 1999, they were 9.2%; it was 15% in 2012. These numbers are a clear sign of a very benevolent discrimination by the State of Israel towards Haredim and Hasidim. Yet, the same secular Jews who petitioned the High Court on their own behalf, do not oppose other types of discrimination enforced by the IDF towards other minorities.

On February 21, 2012, the Supreme Court of Israel annulled the "Tal Law," with a majority of 6 justices against 3. Dorit Beinisch, then President of the Court supported the decision: "we can help to bring a gradual change," she said. Asher Dan Grunis, who later replaced her, opposed the decision. He said that the thought the court would bring Haredim to serve in the IDF is "an illusion." "It doesn’t help the status of the court, we won’t bring change," he added. In August, the law expired and became one of the main reasons that forced Netanyahu to call for early elections. The main argument of the Orthodox leaders is that they care about their youth, who want nothing but to study Torah. As said, they behave like Asian leaders and thus sound manipulative to the secular crowd.

However, this is not the entire picture. An important part of the religious Jews is made up by the abovementioned Religious-Zionists, who go to the army as seculars do. For the sake of American readers, I must emphasize that all of them practice Orthodox Judaism; Reform and Conservative Jews are not part of this. Following the elections, Naftali Bennet, their leader, is in a tough situation. He has a long history with Netanyahu; it began with love and ended with hatred and a wild attack on him by Netanyahu in the last days of the campaign. Yesterday, contacts between Bennet and Lapid in an attempt to form an alliance against Netanyahu were announced publicly. Yet, this is not something Bennett can sell to his electorate. The Bible is above the secular state, allying a heretic "rabbit eater" is absolutely non-kosher. On the same day, leading rabbis belonging to Religious-Zionism caused a major earthquake, signalling a realignment of Israeli politics. The donkey of the Messiah is about to be dismissed.

Historic Meeting

On February 4, an unusual meeting took place in Bnei Brak, at the residence of the Admor of Vizhnitz. The latter is a leading Hasidic group, a central part of ultra-Orthodoxy. Hasidim being friendly folk, they were probably chosen for the task due to their capability to create a positive link with their guests. Religious-Zionism sent several prominent rabbis, including Haim Drukman, Yaakov Ariel, Shmuel Elyahu and Elyakim Lebanon. The historic meeting dealt with the unification of Orthodox Judaism behind a single front against the secular State. They need to agree on a single point: army recruitment policies. The ultra-Orthodox placed a red-line. They will refuse forced recruitment at all costs. This is an ultra-soft red-line; it is difficult to see how this alliance can fail. Donkey Netanyahu may soon find that the era of flight had arrived to the Holy Land; short-lived, young and foolish, the secular donkey will discover that it was not a donkey but a mule, and return to the dustbin of History.


+Israel’s Supreme Court of Justice usually operates as the highest appellate court in the country, but it features also a special operational mode as a court of first instance, called in Hebrew bagatz (acronym for High Court for Justice, not to be confounded with the formal name of the court: The High Court). In this instance, everybody under the jurisdiction of the Court can initiate a process against the State of Israel if he feels one of his rights has been legally (but illegitimately) oppressed by the State.

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