There can be no doubt that with the impending arrival of the Three Weeks the efforts of draft chareidim into the IDF against the position of gedolei torah shlita will result in a stepped-up campaign against the chareidi tzibur in Eretz Yisrael coinciding with the beginning of the Three Weeks. Unfortunately, the prominent media coverage of the Plesner Committee continues to feed the sinas chinam against the chareidi tzibur as many public officials wishing to bash the chareidim are granted a forum to do so.
The chareidi draft has been positioned atop the national agenda – so much so that a planned meeting between Kadima leader Deputy Prime Minister Shaul Mofaz and PA Chairman Mahmoud Abbas (Abu Mazen) that was canceled was also blamed on the chareidi draft issue. While no one can explain just what the connection is, Kadima officials blame Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu for canceling the meeting between Mofaz and Abu Mazen due to the pressure from Mofaz surrounding the Plesner Committee and the chareidi draft. The official reason for the cancelation of the meeting comes from the PA, as Abu Mazen backed out, apparently due to a vibrant Facebook campaign in the PA opposing the meet.
Kadima MK Avi Dichter, a former ISA (Israel Security Agency – Shin Bet) director, told Israel Radio on Sunday morning 11 Tammuz 5772 that he monitors the Arabic media and to credit the prime minister with such “wide sweeping powers that he could persuade the PA to cancel a meeting with Mofaz because of differences surrounding the Plesner Committee would be absurd”. Dichter, who is not a fan of the prime minister, admitted that any effort to connect the Plesner Committee and the canceled meeting was simply not in the realm of reality.
Nevertheless, with the Plesner Committee appears locked in dispute surrounding the chareidi draft. Plesner and his colleagues from Kadima want the new draft law to include monetary and penal consequences for draft dodgers, both on the yeshiva and personal level. Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu remains the voice of moderation, adamantly opposed to individual sanctions against avreichim in the hope of keeping his coalition intact. Mofaz, who heads Kadima, recently entered the coalition over going to national elections under the banner of compelling all chareidim “to share the burden”. Mofaz is not showing any sign of agreeing to modify his stance.
It is difficult to predict what the committee will announce this week and what will pass into law via the Knesset. It does appear however that on August 1, 2012, some 60,000 avreichim may be listed as AWOL (Absent Without Official Leave) from the military is a new law is not passed or if the new law demands all the avreichim enter the IDF or national service.
Committee Chair MK Plesner is releasing statements to the media applauding the committee’s mission, to compel everyone to “share the load”. That said, the committee members have decided the new law being legislated will not address Israeli Arab citizens since they feel the High Court of Justice decision invalidating the Tal Law only applies to chareidim [and hesder yeshivot] and since the court did not include Arabs in the decision, the committee feels this is not part of its mandate.
Arab MK Jamal Zahalka spoke to Israel Radio Sunday morning as well and he too joined in the chareidi bashing. He explained that for one thing, the Druse community does serve in the IDF by-and-large, and has received nothing in return. He went on to explain the Israeli Arab community remains a step child and while chareidim receive cities like Betar and Kiryat Sefer, the Arabs must fight for every inch of land. He decried the fact that Arab citizens who remain loyal are simply ignored as a result of discriminatory policies while chareidim, who don’t even serve in the military receive government assistance on a silver platter. He feels that until such time the Druse community is treated fairly there is no place to speak about drafting Arabs since the community does not receive a fair share of the government budget pie.
As we prepare to observe the mourning period that marks the beginning of Churban Bayis, followed by the Nine Days and Tisha B’Av the timing speaks volumes as at this most difficult and painful period a government of the State of Israel seeks to empty the batei medrashim, to silence the tens of thousands who study torah and protect Eretz Yisrael and Am Yisrael. HaRosh Yeshiva HaGaon HaRav Aaron Yehuda Leib Shteinman Shlita and other gedolei yisrael have called the Plesner Committee a “gezeiras shmad” and the Rosh Yeshiva instructed Degel HaTorah MKs not to participate and not to lend a hand in any way to send a clear message, that the chareidi tzibur will not cooperate and not compromise when it comes to efforts to uproot limud torah in Eretz Yisrael.
(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)