Privilege Protesting Its Loss in Israel During War for Survival

Since the murderous and barbaric October 7 invasion by Hamas, Israel has been on a war footing. The Israel Defense Force (IDF) went into action immediately, even as reserves were being called up in unprecedented numbers. They had to fill out the ranks of what had been, for many years, a virtual ‘peacetime’ army, made up primarily of new recruits fulfilling their mandatory service requirement.


The Israeli military has summoned roughly 360,000 reservists to join the fight against Hamas — marking one of its largest mobilizations in history and upending lives in Israel and around the world.

The mobilization calls for roughly 4 percent of Israel’s 9.8 million population to take up arms against the Palestinian militant group in the Gaza Strip, with Israelis leaving their regular jobs to join the military operation. Families were split, while Israelis abroad for the Jewish holidays were left scrambling to find flights back to Israel as many airlines suspended flights.

“Of course we are scared,” said Dan, a 35-year-old reservist on his way to a military base in Israel, declining to give his full name or location due to concerns for his family. “We are afraid, but we are focused.”

Some Israelis have volunteered for military service despite being out of the age range for reservists. “I lost my father, uncle and cousin in the Yom Kippur War,” Israeli entrepreneur Noam Lanir, 56, said in a phone call from Tel Aviv, where he had volunteered to fight alongside his two sons. “Now it is my time.”

Many of the hundreds of thousands of Israeli reservists were living lives elsewhere in the world when they got the call. But, as one Reuters piece noted, they “dropped everything” to “rush back” from wherever they were, no matter how far away or why they were gone.

Israel had been ruthlessly attacked and grievously wounded. Duty demanded they return to defend and avenge her.

Some were on their honeymoon, others were studying abroad, many were building new lives in foreign countries. But when Israel called up its reservists, opens new tab and declared war this week, the response was swift and overwhelming.

“Everyone is coming. No one is saying no,” said Yonatan Steiner, 24, who flew back from New York, where he works for a tech company, to join his old army medical unit.

“This is different, this is unprecedented, the rules have changed,” he said, speaking by phone from the border near Lebanon where his regiment is based.


As operations in Gaza commenced and threats from Hezbollah and Iran loomed, the IDF advanced proposals for the requirements for both mandatory and reserve time to be lengthened by legislators to meet and prevent possible manpower shortages. Operations were going to continue long-term in any number of directions.

…New recruits, mandatory service: Prior to October 7, certain recruits served 28 months, while mandatory service soldiers were set to serve 32. Due to the high demand prompted by the war, all new recruits and current serving soldiers will have their service extended to 36 months.

Reservists: Prior to October 7, the tracks for reservist duty at ages were 40, 45, and 49, depending on their roles. The IDF is suggesting extending the service from age 40 to 45, from 45 to 50, and from 49 to 52. A special category of reservist volunteers would now be asked to continue up to age 66. The plan also includes a variety of other specific reservist extensions.

Besides the extension of service time, many operational reservists will also need to serve 40 days per year instead of 25, while others could be increased even more. These changes would be reflected in compensation, with specific, more essential units getting higher raises in pay than others.

Service in the Israeli military has always been compulsory for most of its citizens male and female alike – the price one pays for being a tiny country in the middle of the unfriendliest neighborhood imaginable. The one glaring exception to the rule has been the ultra-Orthodox community

…Ultra-Orthodox Jews are known as “Charedim” in Hebrew, “Haredim” in English. Unlike Christianity, Judaism does not recognize separate denominations or confessions. However, the Jewish community does distinguish between secular and liberal, conservative, Orthodox and ultra-Orthodox Jews. These are groups and milieus that differ greatly from one another.

So who is ultra-Orthodox? The decisive factor is the extent and consistency with which the individual interprets the written and oral traditions of God’s commandments. The ultra-Orthodox wing strives for a literal interpretation and then aims to consistently align its daily life with it. Prayer and living according to the commandments are strictly at the center. It is not uncommon for prominent rabbis to be at the head of individual hierarchical movements.

…This touches on many issues in both private and public life. For example, ultra-Orthodox Jews in Jerusalem refuse to travel on the same bus as women. Accordingly, there are separate buses for men and women on the route between the Western Wall and the areas where many ultra-Orthodox Jews live.

…Ultra-Orthodox families have a much higher birth rate than other families in Israel, and the proportion of ultra-Orthodox people in the population has been rising continuously for decades. Forty years ago it was only around 4%, today it is about 12%. In 25 years, the proportion is expected to be over 20%.


Their community of “Torah scholars” has long been exempted from state-mandated military service. 

…Military service is compulsory for most Jewish men and women in Israel. But politically powerful ultra-Orthodox parties have won draft exemptions for their followers that allow them instead to study in religious seminaries.

This long-standing arrangement has bred widespread resentment among the broader public — a sentiment that has grown stronger during the eight-month war against Hamas in Gaza. Over 600 soldiers have been killed, and tens of thousands of reservists have been activated, straining careers, businesses and family lives.

On Tuesday, in the middle of a continuing war for survival, the Israeli Supreme Court said that status was going to change. Male members of the formerly sacrosanct 14% of the population who had never had to help defend the country would now be required to fulfill the same obligations as any other citizen.

The Israeli Supreme Court issued a ruling on Tuesday ordering the government to draft ultra-Orthodox Jews into the military. Since Israel’s founding, ultra-Orthodox Jews have been exempt from mandatory military service. The court also said that the government could no longer fund any religious schools (called “yeshivas”) whose students don’t participate in the draft.

Though both men and women are subject to Israel’s mandatory conscription, the ruling only applies to ultra-Orthodox men.

And aren’t they throwing a hissy fit?


…The soldiers are tired,they are separated from their families,their work, studies,small or big businesses. Add to this the death of their family members for some,of their friends and brothers in arms, the traumatic daily stress which only a War can generate, even to the most well balanced minds. 

The decision to force the Haredi jews into enrollment is coming out of a real necessity – as much as some are seing it as a political move. Drivers, chefs, mechanics, IT, doctors, intelligence, sorting, packing etc…, there is a real need for everything in times of War. 

The Haredi should stop whining and protesting – when the combat soldiers are losing their lives, they are doing it to protect ALL citizens, including the Haredis. The least the Haredis can do is to contribute when EVERYONE is in danger and EVERYONE ELSE is doing so in Israel. 

There is a time for praying and reading Torah and a time to FIGHT for your country who let you pray and read Torah, with a respect that should be give in return, in times of War.

Israeli public opinion is mostly on the side of the IDF and has been hardening against ultra-Orthodox antics for a long while, intensely aggravated now by the strain of the war.

…The months since have put incredible strain on Israel’s military, and particularly on the reservists who have been called up for extended tours of duty. Growing fears of a full-scale war with Lebanon only add to those worries.

Ultra-Orthodox politicians argue that the fight over getting them to serve is being used a political bludgeon, and that the military has no manpower problem. The Israel Defense Forces’ (IDF) leaders disagree.

“We want to move forward, not because it’s nice, [but] first of all because it’s necessary,” IDF Chief of Staff Herzi Halevi said recently. “Every such battalion that we establish, an ultra-Orthodox battalion, decreases the need for the deployment of many thousands of reservists thanks to the mandatory service people.”

The ultra-Orthodox service exemption has also stoked resentment among Israelis who have spent months away from their families while serving in the military, and seen loved ones killed. It has further opened the religious-secular divide in Israel that has always been present, but has grown, especially as the ultra-Orthodox share of the population increases.


Temper tantrums in the middle of the road will do nothing to further their case in public opinion, especially when there are ultra-Orthodox ministers in Netanyahu’s cabinet who would send a fellow Israeli’s son to war while their own son does nothing and would never have to. Unconscionable.

Meanwhile, the behavior of the ultra-Orthodox community towards their members who have already answered their country’s call is shameful.

…Porat has spent months providing therapy at a nearby military base. But he never wears his green army fatigues in the city and keeps his military dog tag hidden under his shirt. Even with this low profile, he says he’s paid a price.

“My [kindergarten age] son has still not been accepted into the community school,” Porat said in a March interview.

For other ultra-Orthodox, the social cost of joining the Israeli military can be even steeper.

“Going to the army will damage their ability to marry,” says Nechumi Yaffe of Tel Aviv University, who is ultra-Orthodox herself. “It will damage their relationship in the family.”

There are fears this ruling on an exemption as old as Israel itself, should he allow its enforcement, will shatter Netanyahu’s already teetering coalition, as there are two ultra-Orthodox parties that are members.

But with Israel facing an unending assault on all flanks and an ongoing mission to eliminate the threats it has already identified, a carveout meant originally for only 400 people almost 80 years ago has no place in the reality of a country under siege today.



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