The Haredi Case for IDF Enlistment

On Wednesday night, Defense Minister Yoav Gallant urged the government to end draft exemptions for Haredim. This long-controversial issue has come to the fore with a new urgency amid a post-October 7 eruption of good feeling between Haredim and non-Haredim. Indeed, Gallant in the same speech made a point of saying, “We cherish and appreciate those who dedicate their lives to learning the Torah.” Yitzchok Adlerstein, an American-born, moderate Haredi rabbi, recently wrote about the subject on a blog aimed to a strictly Orthodox audience:

The IDF is strapped for manpower. It is removing future recruits from training programs that were to give them months more preparation (including Torah study in the religious programs), because they are needed now on the front. The term of service has been extended for both regular service and the annual service in reserve units. In other words, a heavy burden has just been made even heavier.

It does not seem so likely that the default response of our [haredi] community—sit back, weather the storm, and watch it blow over—is going to work. There is a distinct danger that if we don’t come up with some reasonable proposal, others may impose one. There are several signs that this may be the case. First, as mentioned, the mood of the country has shifted. Ironically, this is at a time that many who were not sympathetic at all to Torah or Haredim have become much more so in the spirit of unity, and the general move to [greater religious faith] since October 7. Despite the softening of hostility towards Haredim, insistence on some “sharing of the burden” is also gaining strength.

If the yeshivah world fails to offer any proposal at all regarding the draft situation, it may find itself even more isolated than before, and more fiercely targeted by non-Haredim, despite the good will generated in recent months. This would be especially ironic, given that . . . the way Haredim relate to the IDF has shifted toward much greater appreciation and gratitude than before. In other words, we are so close—and yet so far.

Read more at Cross-Currents

More about: Haredim, IDF, Israeli politics

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