The latest victim of religious discrimination in the IDF is a Chabad soldier serving in the north. The soldier was instructed to remove his wool tzitzis during sports activities for fear he would overheat and possibly dehydrate. His commander told him during sport activities he may not wear three layers (undershirt, tzitzis and top shirt).
The soldier explained that he cannot remove the tzitzis for he is stringent in observing this mitzvah in line with Chabad minhag, to always wear wool tzitzis. The company commander became insistent and the soldier explained that this is his belief and he is unwilling to compromise. When things became more heated the soldier explained he will gladly sit in jail over this for it is a matter of principle.
The company commander took the matter to his superior officer and the Chabad soldier was sent to the IDF Nafach Prison for 10 days.
When asked to comment on the incident the IDF Spokesman explains the soldier was not jailed for the tzitzis but for insubordination pertaining to his remarks to officers. The statement says the soldier refused the company commander’s request and then he was taken to the brigade commander. He told the senior officer that for him “there only law is Torah Law, which trumps IDF law. He was jailed for his insubordination without connection to the tzitzis.”
However, after probing the matter with family members they insist they spoke with soldiers who were present and the IDF spokesman is simply trying to sweep the incident under the rug but in reality, the soldier was jailed for his tzitzis, simple as that. A brother explains that the soldier politely told the officers that he too can apply pressure using his connections outside towards standing on his right to wear wool tzitzis and other religious items as he should.
(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)