Will the IDF Really Accommodate Chareidim?


idffAt a time when one might think the IDF would be dotting its “i”s and crossing its “t”s regarding religious issues, it is clear that the military is what it is and according to many, it will never be a suitable environment for chareidim.

An instructor in a krav maga (hand-to-hand combat) unit refused to supervise a female soldier placed under his command. The father of the female soldier complained against the instructor, accusing him of discrimination. The instructor was censured and it was decided that his service in the IDF would be cut short and he was ousted from the military – all because he was unwilling to be a supervisor of a female in a hand-to-hand combat course.

The instructor’s officer did not back him or show any regard for his sensitivities, but was quick to cover his own career, sending a letter that accused the subordinate of behavior that is simply not in line with IDF ethics. In his letter to all instructors and commanders in the unit under his command he warned against discrimination, explaining that is why he is making them familiar with the case, citing there will be zero tolerance for discrimination.

The sergeant who was ousted tried to explain it was not the place for the woman in the course, but he was faced with an ultimatum, to accept the female soldier or leave the unit. The young man stuck to his principles and was ousted.

The IDF Spokesman preferred not to comment. One can only wonder what will occur if and when tens of thousands of chareidim are serving and complaints against them for discrimination become a commonplace occurrence.

(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)


  1. The *primary* purpose of the IDF is to shmad Chareidim into Chilonim. Which is why the politicians are working so hard to draft the Chareidim. They are afraid of the Chareidi demographics.

  2. Since the average Israeli has no clue about most of taryag mitzvos (it may not be their fault, given the efforts of the Zionist leaders to brainwash them), there’s no way the IDF will even begin to be able to create a suitable environment.

    On the other hand, who knew that it was so easy to get out of the Army–if they discharge you for following the Torah, as in the above story, then what’s the problem? Follow the Torah and be disharged! Sheyn!

  3. The matter is much more complicated. Assuming you are dealing only with volunteers, or with those who made a point of showing up when drafted rather than resisting, you have an initial pool that is favorably inclined to serve. There is a serious problem of many hilonim regarding all religion, and especially Torah, and something obsolete that needs to be surpressed, and the army has to educate its officers to be tolerant and accomodating – something which goes against the grain since the officers are usually big zionists and freeing the Jewish people from the “yoke of Torah” has always been part of zionism.

    On one level there is accomdating halachot such as kashruth and Shabbos, where the IDF follows what in America would be a “modern Orthodox” interpretation, and by holding a stricter level the army is more or less admitting than the “regular” units are “cheating” in halachic matters. However this is fairly easy to accomplish. All it requires is to find jobs for hareidi soldiers in environments where they rarely interact with hilonim, or where the hilonim they deal with have been trained to be accomodating. There is also the complication that the zionists want to conscript Bnei Torah in addition to Baal ha-Battim, and conscripting someone who expects to spend a considerable part of each day learning is much more difficult than someone who has decided on a lifestyle in one davens fast (to get to work), and learning is more of a hobby than a vocation.

    But once you do that, you have the the “Buffalo soldier” problem. A hareidi soldier is offered substantially less opportunity for advancement than a hiloni. Hareidi units will be commanded by non-hareidi, just as most “Colored” regiments in America had white officers, and most “Native” regiments in the Imperial British forces has European officers. Many jobs will be closed to hareidim since its unlikely the whole IDF could be adjusted to accomodate hareidim, and given that the IDF is disinclined to have hareidi officers (as suggested by the recent incident of female singing being inserted to “weed out” people deemed too frum to be officers), the position of hareidi soldiers will always be similar to Blacks in the American army during the Jim Crow era. As it is, there is wide spread discrimination against hareidim in the Israeli economy, which has no tradition of accomodation of religious minorities (unlike the United States), and veterans subject to discrimination tend to be very seriously annoyed.

    If the IDF limits its intake of hareidim to volunteers, gives up the idea that the army’s job is to “modernize” its soldiers (i.e. make them less frum), and the IDF makes a good faith effort to accomodate hareidim, and Israel opens up its economy to hareidi veterans — then all will be well. But if they rely on conscription and treat hareidi soldiers similar to how the “Buffalo soldiers” were treated, Israel is inviting disaster.

  4. #3, Rebbe Yid: the problem in such a case is that because of this soldier’s discriminatory treatment and subsequent “justified” ouster from service, he is not entitled to benefits. Soldiers who serve in full, or who receive honorable discharges, are eligible for many financial benefits for the short and long term.

  5. Can one of the regular MO/dati-leumi commentors please explain how this won’t be a problem with almost every aspect of the army.

    If you’re not prepared to segregate the chareidi units, and limit their contact with female staff in compromising exercises, or “cultural” activities then how can you justify enlisting even the non-learner chareidim?

    Is there any indication that any of the plans include a firm understanding of halochoh and gidrei tznius to any extent?

    None of the cases to date (women singing being the most obvious of them) inspire any confidence at all in IDF being a healthy place for frum yidden.

    You’re all normally so vocal, so please respond with your honest assessment.