There is an old saying “It’s all about timing” and if one applies this to the growing conflict surrounding efforts to draft chareidim, one must look in astonishment at the timing of the motzei shabbos rally. Shabbos is the 17th of Tammuz, marking the beginning of the Three Weeks and Sunday is observed as the fast day this year, bridged by the rally directed at torah Jewry in Eretz Yisrael.
The organizers of the ‘Suckers Tent’ and supporting organizations are calling for a mass rally to demand everyone “share the burden”, the slogan that has become synonymous with pulling avreichim out of yeshivos to serve in the IDF or a state approved national service program.
It is not about being ‘for’ or ‘against’ IDF service, but the fact that gedolei yisrael shlita have spoken out against such a plan in no uncertain terms, instructing chareidi MKs not to participate in the Plesner Committee as to avoid any involvement in the process.
With the increasing momentum demanding chareidim begin pulling their weight, state leaders including Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, President Shimon Peres, Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin are calling upon all citizens of Israel to ‘share the burden’ by being part of IDF or a national service program.
Organizers of the event insist this is not against chareidim, but it is a cry calling for support of every citizen carrying his/her load, sharing in the responsibility of the defense and existence of the nation. This is the general sentiment of the dati leumi community as well.
As such, the rally will begin near the Arlozorov train station in Tel Aviv and they will march to the Museum of Art where the rally will take place. The focus of the rally will be against Deputy Prime Minister/Interior Minister Eli Yishai of Shas and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. The prime minister is accused of “selling out to Yishai” and organizers hope to enlist enough support to send a clear message to the Prime Minister’s Office, that the future of this administration is dependent on the passing of a law to replace the now-defunct Tal Law – to draft chareidim into the IDF.
Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin explained that this will not be accomplished by force but he added that he agrees with the momentum and there should not be more than 1,500 avreichim permitted to continue learning annually.
Opponents of the ongoing effort are trying to explain that the trend is changing and there are thousands of chareidim in the IDF today. They fear the current momentum is a recipe for civil war chas v’sholom, and they are warning that seeking to force chareidim against their will and more importantly, against the word of the rabbonim shlita will result in a collapse of the already existing programs such as the air force’s Shachar program and the infantry’s Nachal Chareidi.
That being the case it appears the national momentum is working against bnei torah as the Kibbutz Movement announced its support – calling on members to take part in the motzei shabbos event.
Prominent Maariv correspondent Ben Caspit in his daily column uses harsh words against those who do not serve, seeking to persuade people to come out on motzei shabbos in demand of “sharing the burden”. Caspit feels this is the final window of opportunity and if chareidim are not compelled to serve, the opportunity will be lost forever. He calls on the public “to take a break from politics” and turn out for this grassroots effort. “This is not just Shaul Mofaz’s and Yochanan Plesner’s private battle, but this is our battle and we must take part”.
Caspit draws an analogy to the Iranian threat, speaking of the “ticking time bomb” in his description of the situation, warning “when this bomb explodes the air force will not be able to save us”.
“The chareidim already understand that the situation that existed to date is gone forever. The problem is time is running out. All sides have climbed up high trees and no one is willing to come down. Shaul Mofaz changes his mind every quarter of an hour. He is torn between the Kadima rebels that call to break from the coalition and those wishing to remain in the government. Netanyahu is torn too, between the longstanding agreement with chareidim and the deep understanding that the current situation must come to an end. There isn’t a responsible adult capable of finding the middle of the road…”
(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)