The (Not So) Subtle Racism of the Draft Bill

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24 Responses

  1. Gershon Distenfeld says:

    I’m speechless yet again that a person who claims to be “Torah observant” would compare other Jews he disagrees with to Amelek.

    [Except that’s not what I did, though, as above, I predicted some would find it objectionable. I said that the behavior of picking on the weakest is part of what the Torah criticizes about Amalek. See my earlier remark about the ability to “distinguish between the use of a Nazi-era example to study the efficacy of protest and equating another target of protest with the Nazis.”

    Are you addressing the substance of the issue, and claiming that the bill does not, in fact, have a disproportionate impact upon a historically-disadvantaged community? — YM]

  2. Steve Brizel says:

    I would agree that much of the rhetoci directed against the Charedi world by the secular media, academic and judicials worlds in Israel has a tone that if used in the US against minority groups would be viewed as beyond the pale of proper political and academic discourse. Yet, the rhetoric in the Charedi world vis a vis any discussion of the facts on the ground in Israel as dictating any Halachic and Hashkafic reaction to the facts on the ground remains that of the anti Zionist rhetoric of pre WW2 Europe-both in the Ashkenazic and Sephardic sectors of the Charedi world.

  3. Harry Maryles says:

    It doesn’t matter that you don’t mean it literally. To use your words, Yaakov, the shoe fits. …meaning that they may not be Amalek but they are sure acting like it. Gershon is right.

    Where is your empathy for the mother who lost he son in combat? I have not seen you express one word of Hakoras Hatov here. All I see is extremism disguised as a fair assessment of the situation.

    I might stomach your views if you had expressed even an ounce of gratitude to the IDF. And showed even the sligtest understanding that people like R’ Chaim Shmuelevitz, R’ Yosef Kahanemen and a certain Mashgiach of a huge Sephardic Charedi Yeshiva had about the IDF and the current situation. Read Rabbi Moshe Grylak’s editorial in last week’s Mishpacha Magazine where he discusses their views. He too is opposed to drafting Charedim. But I can respect his views because of his sensitivity – even as I disagree with him. Yours? Not so much. All all I see from you in this post is the continued talk of Amalek… and the continued attacks against Dov Lipman.

    [Harry, why do you make such confident statements based upon lack of knowledge? I wasn’t aware that I had to publish a biography before posting, nor do I see the relevance. Do you know where I davened this past Shabbos? [Hint, they said prayers for Israel and the IDF, though due to “reishit tzmichat geulateinu” I didn’t answer the first one.] Do you know that I learned in the Mir, and am relatively familiar with R’ Chaim Shmuelevitz’ story of what happened 1967? Or that I was in Israel during the Gulf War, anxiously praying not only for the safety of those in secular Tel-Aviv, but at military bases? Have you criticized those who failed to acknowledge that there were open miracles on a weekly basis during that time, or do you only criticize charedim because [you imagine] they don’t pray for soldiers? Every fifth-grader in my son’s class knows that his prayers and learning helps the IDF.

    By the way, there is a well-known story of the Steipler Rav davening for an IAF squadron sent on a dangerous mission. He insisted upon beginning to say Tehillim an hour early. Then their mission was moved up… one hour. From which one learns that the Steipler believed praying for their safety was of tremendous importance. — YM]

  4. Yehoshua Friedman says:

    I have very mixed reactions to this post and have yet to sort them out. But I would agree with R. Menken against Gershon Distenfeld that there is a difference between referring to characteristics of Amalek and saying that the government or a particular party IS Amalek. In 5765 (2005) during the expulsion of the Jews from Gush Katif and the northern Shomron by the Sharon government there was a similar phenomenon. The psychological warfare and brainwashing used to carry out the expulsion was similar in technique to methods used by the Nazis and Communists even though they did not kill people or throw them into concentration camps. They certainly learned techniques of propaganda and brainwashing from those particular playbooks even if they did not carry them out with the same degree of violence. I agree that the powerplay of taking advantage of the group which is weakest and less equipped to resist is cowardly and unethical. I also agree that we cannot say that the end justifies the means. I have a neighbor who is a single parent eidot ha-mizrach mother of a 20-year-old son learning in yeshiva. The son fought a successful battle to maintain his right to receive National Insurance benefits despite learning in yeshiva and not having served in the army. This was not simple considering the state of the law and bureaucracy. I support the right of men who learn Torah to continue to learn if they are truly committed. I would just like to see some opportunities for hareidi families to get out of the cycle of poverty with minimal damage to the quantity and quality of Torah learning. What happens if some of the kids of a kollel man who totally commits to fulltime Torah for life end up going off the derech? Will it still be worth it?

  5. Elliot Polak says:

    Your frame your entire post around the assumption that Torah observant Jews will somehow become lesser Jews by serving and protecting their brethren in the army. It’s almost as if you arent aware of all the amazing religious boys from hesder,mechina and nachal charadi programs who not only serve in the army and stay religious but become better ovdai Hashem through the experience. (and to counter your argument that some boys fall and lose their observance in the army, it would be interesting to compare those numbers to the amount of yeshiva boys who leave the beis medrash. At least the former fell while performing a mitzvah.)

    [This is not the time to rehash that argument. While I have friends who did hesder and respect their knowledge and commitment, Rav Goldvicht of Keren B’Yavneh agreed that the ideal, even in his hesder yeshiva, was for students to continue with their studies. You are welcome to reread the multiple posts here dealing with the resignations, for example, of key figures in Nachal because the IDF wasn’t keeping its promises. — YM]

  6. Harry Maryles says:

    Yaakov, I believe you. The problem is that no one would have known that had you not mentioned it in a response to my comment.

    What one knows is what one reads. And this post made no mention of it. From the tenor of this post and many like it in the past, all we can glean is that you place absolutely no value on the IDF. It would be nice if you would have mentioned the positive attitude these Gedloim of the past had towards the IDF in the body of a post instead of an attached response to my comment.

    [Harry, the false premise here is that anyone is even discussing, much less denigrating, the value of the IDF. Your statement that “all we can glean is that you place absolutely no value on the IDF” stems from absolutely nothing I have written, including this post. To say that Torah study has its own value and offers its own protection does not logically lead to a statement that “the IDF has no value,” and I have not found many who believe that outside the realm of the Satmar Rav and those who follow his shitah. Why should I be expected to comment upon a non-topic? Simply to satisfy someone’s pejorative imagination about charedim? — YM]

  7. Josh says:

    This argument suffers from the same flaw as all “race based impact” arguments: it equates effect with intent. Just because Sephardim might be disproportionately impacted by the law (an assertion that you have not supported with anything beyond speculation and conjecture based on your own generalizations of the religious makeup of the Sephardi community) does not mean that the drafters intended to impact the Sephardi Chareidi community any more than the Ashkenazi wing. Indeed, I challenge you to provide one piece of legislative history showing that the drafters had it even on the periphery of their consciousness to recruit a greater proportion of Sephardi than Ashkenazi Chareidim.

    [Joshua, it’s not my conjecture. Rav Ovadiah Yosef zt”l knew the state of affairs in the Sephardic Torah world better than most anyone. As for effect vs. intent — I’m sorry, you have it completely backwards. We don’t let bigots create racist laws if they aren’t dumb enough to disclose their racist intent. The poll tax didn’t say “in order to disenfranchise African Americans,” “Stop and Frisk” certainly never had a written policy to pick on Blacks and Hispanics, and the Village of Airmont never listed keeping out the Orthodox in its charter. Nonetheless, all three were ruled unconstitutional because they discriminated against certain groups. This law clearly fails that test. — YM]

  8. cvmay says:

    There are many missing components to this article. When the SHAS party was founded it was not established or marketed as a Charedi party, it was known as the “Religious Likud” party. It may have been the desire of Rav Shach zt”l to found a Charedi party for Sefardim yet SHAS did not start off that way.

    The Bnei Torah of Sefardim were used to voting UTJ or Agudah and the traditional/religious/nationalist man on the street found comfort in a party headed by Chachom Yosef. The SHAS educational wing b”h established chadorim/yeshiva ketanos in all cities and many more families joined the SHAS voting masses. The majority of voters are not YESHIVA GEDOLAH graduates or Kollel families, the masses are right wing in idealogy, religious in observances and nationalist in attitude.

    If the coming months see more Sefardic bochurim enlisting in the IDF it has no connection to racism rather with an innate desire of these families to have their sons’ serve, be part of and share in the country’s responsibilities.

  9. martin brody says:

    ” And let’s not forget the Yemenite Baby Affair.”
    Why not? The claims were proven false.

    [972 Magazine (the link above) is neither religious nor right-wing, and presents compelling evidence, including multiple verified accounts of individual adoptees. The government can deny from today through next week that it happened, but that requires believing that people like Miriam Shoker, who found her biological parents, don’t exist. –YM]

  10. Josh says:

    I disagree. Supreme Court case law from the 1970s rejected “disparate impact” alone as sufficient for an Equal Protection discrimination claim (the majorities said that discriminatory intent is an element). While “disparate impact” is indeed codified in various civil rights statutes (the Equal Employment Opportunity Act is one example), it is not, strictly speaking, an across-the-board doctrine of U.S. federal civil rights law.

    But I didn’t mean to quibble about American law: my point was that (a) you had not marshaled evidence to show that the Sephardi world is so constituted that its Chareidim will be more easily drafted; and (b) there is no indication that anti-Sephardi sentiment was behind this law. If (a) ends up being true, then I will at least reconsider (b).

    [I quoted American examples only because I am more familiar with them, but protecting minorities requires a similar test of effect, not intent, for the same reasons, regardless of location. I don’t think it’s at all a matter of American vs. Israeli law. I have a close friend and associate who, post his stint in the IDF, is an attorney in Israel; I can ask him.

    Your point (a) should be addressed by the fact that Maran HaRav Ovadiah Yosef zt”l considered it so obvious. He felt it “could bring down the whole level of the Sephardic community” — which, by the way, would merely reinforce ethnic discrimination within the Orthodox community, if the Ashkenazim could assume they were better educated.

    I have to say, I find it more than a bit disconcerting that a few of those so anxious to talk about charedi racism (which exists, as it does in every community) are entirely comfortable with a law that, according to the leading Sephardic Torah authority of his day, will have a profoundly disparate and negative impact upon Sephardim. It’s seems clear now that these individuals cared less about Sephardim than about opportunities to criticize the charedim. — YM]

  11. Michael says:

    +972 is a leftwing anti Israel magazine, whose goal is to destroy the state of Israel.

    take a look here: http://www.ngo-monitor.org/article/_magazine

    [972 merely reprinted the articles from HaOkets. HaOketz doesn’t appear to have the same bias, and this remains the most detailed coverage I can find (note how recently the article appeared). Nonetheless, the NY Times has also covered it. Shoshana Madmoni-Gerber begins her book on the subject with her aunt’s own account of the kidnapping of her first cousin. –YM]

  12. Nachum Boehm says:

    You are arguing that since the army has a disparate impact on the religious committment of Sefardic Chareidi Chozrim B’teshuva versus Ashkenzic Chareidim, therefore Chareidim should be automatically exempt from a Universal coutrywide draft?

    Or are you saying that there should be different exemption criteria for Sefardic and Ashkenzak Chareidim (and Baaley Teshuva), based on their likely religious committment?

    Either way, your position is so absurd, that it cannot be helped even by projecting racist agenda onto your ideological opponents and comparing aspects of them to aspects of Amaleik.

  13. yehonatan alibert says:

    We assume that people who support the draft, care less about Sepharadim than having opportunities to critize charedim. It’s true that for years in Israel, Sepharadim were considered as second citizen(i know it from Sepharadim friends living in Israel). B”H,this mentality changed. This prejuge exists in any group,even Charedim. How many time, did i heard Sepharadim complaining that they were rejected from yeshivot or bais yaakov just for being Sephatadim, in the US or Israel(heard from personal experiences).
    The point is that we don’t see the bias against Sepharadim through the draft law. Also, a big number of the member of the Shas party went to the army and it seems that they are pretty much religious,even charedi in their life. We can tell me stories of people who left religion after the army, i can tell you the opposite stories.
    I think that promoting the idea that the army is going to take away your yiddishkeit or lower your madreigah is insulting for the charedim who are in the different branches of the army,like Nachal Charedi, and so. Both sides charedim and no charedim have to take a break, cool off, recognize their own flaws and start a real dialogue without throwing name or epithets to each others.
    By the way, I’m an ex-charedi, who get dishearted by a lot of thing he heard from Charedim, but still enjoy a lot of charedi friends.

  14. jbs says:

    I understand your basic point, but I am having a hard time understanding how you are so bothered by the apparant racism or discrimination coming from the Israel Government towards sephardim, but have no problem with the descrimination emanating for the Chareidi possition. The fact is that a position that says that Chareidim are going to unilaterally make themselves the protectors of Israel through learning is discriminating against non-Chareidim by making them by default the only physical protectors of the nation in the IDF. If Chareidim volunteered a significant percentage to the IDF, but left a sizable learning community, it would be understood, but an entire population of IDF draft dodgers to me is reverse-descrimination as if Chiloni lives are somehow less important.

    Also, I don’t believe we can live in past on what was done to Sephardi community when it urged to drop some of it’s religiosity. This was no over 60 years ago and was a much different time. It is a new generation and we cannot be so paranoid. I highly doubt that at this point, the vast Israeli government is in the business of stripping religion from the frum community. The frum community, Dati or Chareidi has grown very large and needs to be productive members of the country both physically and financially in order for the state to survive. If they can make the changes needed to be productive(more than just learning), I doubt that almost anyone would be against mitzvah observance or Talmud Torah. The average Chiloni is very respectful of Jewish tradition, even if they themselves are not observant.

    [I am planning to address your first point in a separate post. — YM]

  15. Natan Slifkin says:

    Referring to ideological opponents as engaging in Amalek-like acts is par for the course in charedi society, and is even said about other charedim. For example, Rabbi Doron Beckerman quoted various charedi Gedolim as saying that charedi boys who are not in yeshivah – i.e. who are not able to succeed at that preferred role in charedi society – should go to the army. Of course, there are many rabbonim in charedi society who disagree with that, because there are potential risks in the army. They would refer to the Gedolim quoted by Rabbi Beckerman as engaging in Amalekite behavior in making efforts to single out the weakest. In fact, Rav Shmuel Auerbach said that Rav Steinman is engaging in Amalekite cooling of religious fervor – and Rav Steinman’s followers said in turn that Rav Shmuel Auerbach is acting like Amalek in picking up the weakest in charedi society. So charedim are not only calling non-charedim Amalek, they are also all being called Amalek by other charedim.

    [Which tells us that legitimate comparisons are being made that others drag out ad absurdum — e.g. because I pointed out that picking on the weakest is Amalekite behavior, which of course it is, I was “comparing other Jews to Amalek,” which of course I was not. — YM]

  16. Eli B. says:

    Rabi Menken:

    Yisrael Meir Hirsch of the Neturei Karta has suggested that those who do not want to serve in the army either:

    1: Move to the PA controlled areas.
    2: Declare their position that they refuse to recognize the state’s laws as applying to them.

    Either way, they would be granted a Petur from army service. I am wondering why there is such a hubris when most Charaidim agree to #2 in any case (based on the famous Ran in Nedarim regarding Dina D’Malchusa not applying in EY). Let them just say the truth and they will not be bothered to serve.

    As far as your main point, others have pointed out that Sephardim have joined the army consistantly until the very recent past. This is opposed to the “Yerushalmis”, which were more like Neturei Karta and are looking b’davka not to join.

    That all being said, I think your side point of a “skills test” is a good one (once the law is agreed to and in place, which won’t happen anyway). Perhaps Peturim should be divided up equally among the religious population, with each sector allowed to have a certain percentage to sit and learn (with their own criteria) while the rest of the sector joins the army.

    [Eli, please see my newest post, A Letter to a Troubled Charedi Father. It directly addresses why there is no current openness to the induction of those who are not learning, and explains what needs to happen to change that. — YM]

  17. c-l,c says:

    yehonatan alibert
    April 7, 2014 at 11:31 am
    Your contention proves the opposite.

    Shas has more Mk’s at present in reserves than Yeh Atid.
    Most Shas voters who served in the IDF ,and have a disproportionate % of combat wounded among their pop. (they were the “grunts”).
    Still,they’re maligned worse than any other segment of the country.

    This in an army an avg. religious Sephardi should join ?!

    jbs
    April 7, 2014 at 12:10 pm

    “You killed and you inherited “(Kings 2) is okay?

  18. Yisrael Asper says:

    Natan Slifkin:”Referring to ideological opponents as engaging in Amalek-like acts is par for the course in charedi society, and is even said about other charedim.”

    What makes it par for the course in Chareidi society? You can’t imagine loads of Chareidim in high positions and low being loath to say Jews are engaging in Amalekite behavior?

  19. Yehoshua Duker says:

    A Rosh Yeshiva in Yerushalayim quipped (sadly) that in order to be certain to fulfil the mitzva of zecheiras Amalek, one must be stringent and have in mind all of the Jews.

  20. Bob Miller says:

    With few exceptions, Israeli citizens, even Arabs, are the same race. Alleging that Sephardim and Ashkenazim are two different races is way over the top.

    [What you call a “race” differs based upon context. We call Spaniards (Hispanics) a different race than Frenchmen, but Frenchmen are the same race as Ukranians. Somehow I doubt anyone would say that calling Nazism racism is “over the top!” And in addition, the Hebrew term is related not only to race but pedigree. Ashkenazi discrimination against Sephardim is quite commonly referred to as racism, in all circles. –YM]

  21. c-l,c says:

    Read up on Draft Problems of the ’70s .
    How religious Sephardi girls were grabbed while Ashkenazim were unmolested.

    [I’m unfamiliar with this, and Google was unhelpful. It did, however, turn up an interesting paper demonstrating that simply a Sephardi name sets an Israeli back 5 or 6% on income. — YM]

  22. Yair Daar says:

    Why do you call this “racism?” There is a difference between a law that affects one population more than another and a law that specifically targets a group of people. Are you suggesting that this law was purposely designed with punishing Sefardim in mind?

    [Negligent failure to conduct a Racial Equity Impact Assessment is no excuse. In addition, Rav Yosef zt”l and other Sephardi leaders warned that the impact would be inequitable long before the Shaked commission concluded its work. — YM]

  23. Yair Daar says:

    “Negligent failure to conduct a Racial Equity Impact Assessment is no excuse. In addition, Rav Yosef zt”l and other Sephardi leaders warned that the impact would be inequitable long before the Shaked commission concluded its work. — YM”

    While that may be true, it still does not qualify as racism nor is it analogous to Amalek who specifically targeted the weak. Therefore, the use of such terms qualifies as inflammatory in my eyes.

  24. Steve Brizel says:

    R Menken responded as follows to R Harry Maryles:

    “Harry, why do you make such confident statements based upon lack of knowledge? I wasn’t aware that I had to publish a biography before posting, nor do I see the relevance. Do you know where I davened this past Shabbos? [Hint, they said prayers for Israel and the IDF, though due to “reishit tzmichat geulateinu” I didn’t answer the first one.] Do you know that I learned in the Mir, and am relatively familiar with R’ Chaim Shmuelevitz’ story of what happened 1967? Or that I was in Israel during the Gulf War, anxiously praying not only for the safety of those in secular Tel-Aviv, but at military bases? Have you criticized those who failed to acknowledge that there were open miracles on a weekly basis during that time, or do you only criticize charedim because [you imagine] they don’t pray for soldiers? Every fifth-grader in my son’s class knows that his prayers and learning helps the IDF”

    First of all, much of the above except for what happened during the 1991 Gulf War really IMO is what is called ancient history,which can be trotted out only so often before it loses any and all contemporary significance, and IMO, the real issue is your the refusal to even consider the halachic and hashkafic bases of “”reishit tzmichat geulateinu”, which you seem willing to make an ideological statement about and ignore in a shul where the Tefilah Lshlom HaMedinah is said. In one shul where I daven, where the rav is Charedi the Tefilos for the Medinah and the IDF are recited, and the actions of a guest walking out earned that person a denunciation of his actions by our rav. The fact that every ” fifth-grader in my son’s class knows that his prayers and learning helps the IDF” is wonderful, but the absence of a Mi Sheberach for the IDF speaks volumes as to the lack of hakaras hatov. As far as “those who failed to acknowledge that there were open miracles on a weekly basis during that time”, please tell us what sectors of Israeli society made such claims.

    [Steve, I lose respect for your opinion when you show no respect whatsoever for the consensus of contemporary Gedolei Torah, not one of whom is on record as calling a secular (and frequently anti-religious) “Zionist” state “reishit tzmichat geulateinu.” You’re welcome to believe that, but casual disdain for the view of the leaders of the Jewish nation takes you down a different road than that which has held together our nation. And where do you find in the Nevi’im that there was a special Mi Sheberach said for the soldiers of their day, to the exclusion of all others? — YM]

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