It’s Time for Haredi Jews to Become Part of Israel’s Story

Unless the Supreme Court grants an extension from a recent ruling, on Monday the Israeli government will be required to withhold state funds from all yeshivas whose students don’t enlist in the IDF. The issue of draft exemptions for Haredim was already becoming more contentious than ever last year; it grew even more urgent after the beginning of the war, as the army for the first time in decades found itself suffering from a manpower crunch. Yehoshua Pfeffer, a haredi rabbi and writer, argues that haredi opposition to army service has become entirely disconnected from its original rationale:

The old imperative of “those outside of full-time Torah study must go to the army” was all but forgotten. . . . The fact that we do not enlist, all of us, regardless of how deeply we might be immersed in the sea of Torah, brings the wrath of Israeli society upon us, gives a bad name to all of haredi society, and desecrates the Name of Heaven. It might still bring harsh decrees upon the yeshiva world. It is time for us to engage in damage limitation.

In Pfeffer’s analysis, today’s haredi leaders, by declaring that they will fight the draft tooth and nail, are violating the explicit teachings of the very rabbis who created and supported the exemptions. He finds the current attempts by haredi publications to justify the status quo not only unconvincing but insincere. At the heart of the matter, according to Pfeffer, is a lack of haredi identification with Israel as a whole, a lack of feeling that the Israeli story is also the haredi story:

Today, it is high time we changed our tune. The new response to the demand for enlistment needs to state, first and foremost to ourselves, that this is our story. On the one hand, it is crucial to maintain and even strengthen our isolation from secular values and culture. . . . On the other hand, this cultural isolationism must not create alienation from our shared story with our fellow brethren living in the Holy Land. Participation in the army is one crucial element of this belonging.

Read more at Tzarich Iyun

More about: Haredim, IDF, Israeli society

Israel Just Sent Iran a Clear Message

Early Friday morning, Israel attacked military installations near the Iranian cities of Isfahan and nearby Natanz, the latter being one of the hubs of the country’s nuclear program. Jerusalem is not taking credit for the attack, and none of the details are too certain, but it seems that the attack involved multiple drones, likely launched from within Iran, as well as one or more missiles fired from Syrian or Iraqi airspace. Strikes on Syrian radar systems shortly beforehand probably helped make the attack possible, and there were reportedly strikes on Iraq as well.

Iran itself is downplaying the attack, but the S-300 air-defense batteries in Isfahan appear to have been destroyed or damaged. This is a sophisticated Russian-made system positioned to protect the Natanz nuclear installation. In other words, Israel has demonstrated that Iran’s best technology can’t protect the country’s skies from the IDF. As Yossi Kuperwasser puts it, the attack, combined with the response to the assault on April 13,

clarified to the Iranians that whereas we [Israelis] are not as vulnerable as they thought, they are more vulnerable than they thought. They have difficulty hitting us, but we have no difficulty hitting them.

Nobody knows exactly how the operation was carried out. . . . It is good that a question mark hovers over . . . what exactly Israel did. Let’s keep them wondering. It is good for deniability and good for keeping the enemy uncertain.

The fact that we chose targets that were in the vicinity of a major nuclear facility but were linked to the Iranian missile and air forces was a good message. It communicated that we can reach other targets as well but, as we don’t want escalation, we chose targets nearby that were involved in the attack against Israel. I think it sends the message that if we want to, we can send a stronger message. Israel is not seeking escalation at the moment.

Read more at Jewish Chronicle

More about: Iran, Israeli Security