Wednesday, January 26, 2005

The Continuing Marginalization of the Religious Zionists

Religious Zionists were just recovering from the Education Ministry's lame attempt to discriminate against Yehiva University graduates, when they received another blow below the belt. IDF Personnel Corps Commander Maj.-Gen. Elazar Stern has decided to disband the special yeshivat hesder units in the army. Maj.-Gen. Stern's disbanding of the Hesder is just another attempt to push the religious Zionists out of the mainstream of Israeli life.

"Beginning with the upcoming recruitment in March, the hesder yeshiva students – who combine army service with yeshiva study in a five-year combined program – will not serve in special hesder companies. Instead, they will be dispersed in smaller groups throughout larger battalions.

"We have no interest in ideological units in the army," said Stern, himself an observant Jew, to Army Radio today. "The IDF is an army of the people, and people should get to know each other, and not think that the other side has horns." He implied that even the Nachal Hareidi - special units that enabled many hareidi-religious soldiers to serve in the army because of their nearly-total separate nature - might be dismantled as well.

The special hesder units were established to enable the observant soldiers to pray together and otherwise maintain their religious way of life."

As one who has served in the army, I can testify to the fact that it is very difficult to maintain a religious way of life there. Stern's decision is really a form of secular coercion. I know he wears a kippa. So what? He is a tool in the hand of the secularists. This decision is a way to force young religious men to be in an environment that is an absolute contradiction to the values that they were raised on. The army's secular atmosphere as well as the pressure of being a soldier will be too much for many young soldiers to bear. This was the reason for establishing the hesder units in the first place!

I imagine that some religious Zionist parents will continue to send their children to the army. When their one of their sons comes home bareheaded from bootcamp, those parents will roll their eyes towards heaven and cry,"Oy vey. What happened to Rafi. He doesn't keep Shabbat anymore!" Other parents, not willing to sacrifice their sons' souls on the State of Israel's secular altar, will find ways for their children not to enlist. Vehamevin Yavin!
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