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Monday, March 03, 2014 

Mass Haredi protest against army service does not impress non-Haredis

The Haredis opposing military service may think their protest that drew nearly 300,000 was a success, but it was also a failure in the sense that it did leave a bad impression upon quite a few people in the rest of the public:
Beneath a gray, overcast sky, a surreal tableau of hundreds of thousands of ultra-Orthodox Jews gathered in uptown Jerusalem Sunday afternoon to protest against the government’s conscription bill, as secular onlookers took in the spectacle with pronounced awe and contempt.

“As a human force, it’s amazing to behold,” said Aurora Carlson, her mouth slightly agape as she snapped photos of the event. “But I’m here as part of a protest against the protest. I think they all should serve in the army or do national service.”

Carlson said she viewed the protest as “shocking” and “desperate.”

“It’s shocking because a lot of the protest is illogical,” she said. “Why shouldn’t they contribute to the public good? Why should they be parasites? I view this as desperate, because they’re scared to take any responsibility for the land they live in.”
In a way, yes, it is a desperate ploy on their part.
While conceding that the issue of compulsory haredi military service is “complicated” – and even deeming the demonstrators “courageous” for their refusal to conform – Don Graber noted that the protest underscores an egregious sense [of] entitlement among the ultra-Orthodox community.

“This would be more honorable if they didn’t accept money from the state and benefit from it in so many ways,” he said. “But it’s not honorable, because they take hundreds of millions [of shekels] in welfare and give nothing in return.”
True, and they're only bound to continue with that demand. And do they really study Torah, and the history of biblical scholars? Because if they did, surely they'd be aware of the following:
It says it right in Pirkei Avos (Ethics of the Fathers): "Rabban Gamaliel the son of Rabbi Judah the Prince said: Great is study of the Torah when combined with a worldly occupation, for toil in them both puts sin out of mind. All study of the Torah which is not supplemented by work is destined to prove futile and causes sin."
And also:
A student of Gamaliel wrote "If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat" (2 Thess. 3:10). Fair enough for me!
Same here.

Yehuda Shlezinger said:
...if the demonstration was directed at the secular public, it was a painful failure. For weeks, the haredim have been trying to explain that only a marginal extremist group in the ultra-Orthodox community is agitating for yeshiva students to commit suicide rather than be drafted. They are trying to explain that the haredi mainstream is not extremist, that this was a prayer rally and not a protest, that they want to show pain, not opposition.

But any typical non-observant Israeli who heard the protest's concluding speech, in which a rabbi urged haredim not to be drafted under any circumstances, and who saw the pictures of half a million haredim in the streets protesting against the privilege of taking up their share of the burden and arguing that one person's blood is more precious than another's, will be angry and feel more alienated than ever.
As the other article demonstrates, there are people out there who see this demonstration as a sad portrait of a community whose only response to army service is to increase opposition at all costs. At least one of the interviewees could only think to act as though Haredis are on some level way above everyone else, which is not true at all. Alas, this does not concern many of the Haredi leaders, who for all we know, probably want to give leftists ammunition to use against them. At the same time, given that various leftists are against army service too, it leads me to wonder how many left-wingers became Haredi and joined with sects like Satmar over time? That's something many people may have overlooked, but it's decidedly worth pondering whether it could've happened.

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