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Thursday, January 05, 2012

Haredi soldiers ordered to clean women's restrooms

This was mentioned in passing on Wednesday, but I wanted to highlight it as a separate story. Soldiers in the Nachal Charedi unit were ordered to clean women's restrooms at the Tel Nof Air Force base on Monday. They were also ordered to sit through a lecture with women soldiers. Both incidents are violations of the soldiers' terms of service.
Soldiers told Arutz Sheva that when they realized they were about to attend a lesson alongside women, they complained to their commanders. In response, they said that one of the base commanders said: "From now on, this is the procedure." He added: "We will not have exclusion of women here from now on."

The soldiers said they were also instructed to clean women's restrooms as part of their routine participation in cleaning and maintaining the base. This, too, is a violation of the terms of service that stipulate that they will remain within their training area and not enter women's quarters.

Eliyahu Lax, chairman of the Association for the Torah-Observant Soldier, said that he had spoke to senior figures in the battalion who averred that the story was true. "Unfortunately," he said, "we are getting the feeling, and not for the first time, that the IDF is not interested in hareidim, and the entire issue of incentives for enlisting hareidim is simply raised in order to use hareidim as a punching bag."

The hareidi soldiers have braved the hurdle of the disapprobation of some members of their community, who feel that they are going against the hareidi way of life and that they will end up lowering their standards of religious observance. These incidents are being used to show that those anti-army elements are right.

The IDF said Wednesday that an inquiry was held into the event following the soldiers' complaints and that "instructions regarding the activities of Shachar Kachol have been refreshed in order to prevent similar incidents from happening again in the future."
It would be a shame if Nachal Charedi fell apart over this. A real shame. But that's where this is headed. If the army shows that their promises are meaningless, the rabbis will come out against Nachal Charedi outright (until now, they have adopted a posture where they neither condone nor condemn it) and then no one from the Haredi community will enlist.

Some people apparently think the best solution is to cut off your nose to spite your face. Whether that includes the IDF's top brass remains to be seen.

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8 Comments:

At 6:20 PM, Blogger Red Tulips said...

Carl, I want to start off by first emphasizing that I looked at the numbers of Haredim in the IDF, and it is a drop in the bucket compared to general recruitment numbers. It still is a reality that the vast majority of Haredim do not join the IDF, and will not join the IDF, regardless of what is enacted. This hurts the Haredim, because it means they maintain their separate state-within-a-state status, and continue to be economically destitute. Joining the IDF is a way for the IDF to lift themselves out of poverty.

The article linked to in Israel National News was biased. The problem is anti-Haredi incitement? What about the riots and violence in the Haredi community directed at the secular/Chilonim when they had a rally in Beit Shemesh? What about the child-spitting? What about the death threats to "Israel's Rosa Parks" for the 'crime' of sitting in the front of the bus? (What decade are we in? 1950?) What about the extremely inflammatory statement of a top Haredi rabbi who called Chiloni the "erev rav?" (i.e., not Jewish) Or reports that some Haredi communities have morality police? (what country is this? Saudi Arabia? I mean seriously...morality police???) And yesterday I read that some secular teens beat up a Haredi boy. Is this shocking, given what is going on? Sadly no. It is not excusable whatsoever, but this shows a growing problem in Israeli society.

Anyway.

As far as cleaning the women's restrooms go - I personally don't know what non-Haredi soldiers have to do. If in fact they too have to clean women's toilets, then I don't see what the problem is. I do not think Haredim should be treated better or worse than secular soldiers.

The Haredim should never have been recruited to the IDF under false pretenses, that they would be able to have a segregated existence. That is the fault of the IDF.

At the end of the day, this is a values clash.

So what do you do? I believe first things first: secular Israel must cut off the welfare funding for the Haredim, that allows them to sit on their butts all day and learning in the Kollel, instead of working. I have nothing against a small group of Torah scholars existing. I have a problem when 90%+ of Haredim do not have formal jobs and instead receive a stipend to study Torah. This is not sustainable. I also believe that Haredi schools should be better regulated and have a core curriculum of Math, science (including evolution), and all secular studies, that allows them the option of integrating into the broader society. This is mandated in New York State, where every student must pass the Regent's Exam.

I think that if you set up these national standards, then the problems we see today will correct itself in a generation. I think the radicalization of Haredim will be reduced, because today's Haredim are more extremist as a function of the terrible schooling they receive, as well as the lack of incentive to have to find a job.

 
At 6:21 PM, Blogger Red Tulips said...

This comment has been removed by the author.

 
At 7:15 PM, Blogger Captain.H said...

I don't think you're going to agree with me on this, Carl, but, as a US military veteran, I can attest that KP duty is a standard part of junior enlisted personnel duties. So far as I've read, it's also pretty standard for all Western militaries. It's not a favorite memory of mine but KP (from Kitchen Patrol) is cleaning the mess hall kitchen, barracks latrines, mopping & waxing floors, etc. Somebody has to do it. Basic trainees and, unless and until the new recruits are so extensively, expensively trained to be not cost-effective for janitorial duties, are the obvious logical choice.

In the USAF, I also attended co-ed technical training. Everyone dressed alike in fatigues, in a regimented environment, trying to quickly absorb technical material, the last thing on our minds was boys & girls, the birds and the bees.

For most recruits, in the 18-early 20's, it's a period of transition to mature, self-disciplined adulthood. To the degree that goal is absorbed is the degree that there are no inter-personal difficulties, regardless of gender. I'd suggest that all military recruits look at it from that perspective and their military life will be far smoother. Recruits are now in the military, they must think "teamwork" for that military to be effective. Since the IDF doesn't have a Cavalry branch, high horses aren't needed.

 
At 10:01 PM, Blogger Juniper in the Desert said...

I bet they would not order the Druze or Bedouin soldiers to do that!! It is pure viciousness. This is heartbreaking as it shows they are as cruel as mozlems!! ;(((

BTW Red tulips, Israel is Israel, NOT secular or religious but an equal home for both. You must be a leftist divide and rule merchant!!

 
At 11:26 PM, Blogger Carl in Jerusalem said...

Captain.H,

The objection was not to cleaning duties (in fact, the article even mentioned "as part of ordinary cleaning duties"). The objection was to specifically cleaning a ladies room.

The deal these people have with the army - and the only reason they agreed to remove themselves from the yeshiva rosters and expose themselves to the draft was the deal - is that they are kept miles away from the nearest woman. They serve in all-male bases and are supposed to come into contact only with males. They'll clean men's rooms all day long if necessary. They don't care about that.

 
At 12:01 AM, Blogger Red Tulips said...

Juniper,

I believe Israel is not sustainable as a nation if the vast majority of (male) Haredim do not have "on the books" jobs and receive subsidies to study in the kollel their whole lives. The army is a way to lift the Haredim out of poverty and allow them to enter the broader society. The whole point of the army is to integrate them into society. I do not know how serving in all-male units furthers that goal.

The bottom line is that we see that Haredim are economic basket cases and what they do is not working. Haredim have to change for the betterment of their own lives even more than the betterment of the lives of Chilonim/secular Jews. And it would be nice for secular Jews to change as well, and reverse the seeping trend of "post-Zionism." For the record.

One thing I would also like to note: I would be shocked in the Druze/Bedouin in the IDF do not have to clean bathrooms. And I would like to add that Arab villages have their own problems, and much of my analysis re: the Haredim sadly also applies to Arab Israeli villages. (the Arab Israeli issue is one for another day)

There are lots of problems to go around - in every sector. But I think it is very unfortunate to say "Hashem says that women cannot sing" and leave it at that as if that stands for analysis. It does not. We really do not know what Hashem said or did not say. I did my own research into the manner, and the Hebrew Bible says nothing directly on the matter of "kol isha." What has happened is that rabbis have interpreted scripture in certain ways over the years. But minority opinions also have allowed women to sing (and serve in combat). Why are these minority opinions disregarded? Wouldn't, in this modern age, it be more desirable to interpret Torah in ways that fit modern understandings of human biology and psychology? (given there are numerous choices as to how to interpret Torah)

I believe that Haredim and other Orthodox interpret Torah as they do as a form of rejection of modernity. And that is a problem.

 
At 12:02 AM, Blogger Red Tulips said...

Juniper,

I believe Israel is not sustainable as a nation if the vast majority of (male) Haredim do not have "on the books" jobs and receive subsidies to study in the kollel their whole lives. The army is a way to lift the Haredim out of poverty and allow them to enter the broader society. The whole point of the army is to integrate them into society. I do not know how serving in all-male units furthers that goal.

The bottom line is that we see that Haredim are economic basket cases and what they do is not working. Haredim have to change for the betterment of their own lives even more than the betterment of the lives of Chilonim/secular Jews. And it would be nice for secular Jews to change as well, and reverse the seeping trend of "post-Zionism." For the record.

One thing I would also like to note: I would be shocked in the Druze/Bedouin in the IDF do not have to clean bathrooms. And I would like to add that Arab villages have their own problems, and much of my analysis re: the Haredim sadly also applies to Arab Israeli villages. (the Arab Israeli issue is one for another day)

There are lots of problems to go around - in every sector. But I think it is very unfortunate to say "Hashem says that women cannot sing" and leave it at that as if that stands for analysis. It does not. We really do not know what Hashem said or did not say. I did my own research into the manner, and the Hebrew Bible says nothing directly on the matter of "kol isha." What has happened is that rabbis have interpreted scripture in certain ways over the years. But minority opinions also have allowed women to sing (and serve in combat). Why are these minority opinions disregarded? Wouldn't, in this modern age, it be more desirable to interpret Torah in ways that fit modern understandings of human biology and psychology? (given there are numerous choices as to how to interpret Torah)

I believe that Haredim and other Orthodox interpret Torah as they do as a form of rejection of modernity. And that is a problem.

 
At 5:27 AM, Blogger Sunlight said...

Ah ha! So the singing thing is in the rabbinic writings and not in the Torah itself? The exact reason for Torah Economics... to get back re-evaluating the actual Torah for guidance... Of course, with elections coming up in Israel, things will be stark and confrontational, as elections are meant to replace violent overthrow... so maybe After all these elections, we could start a quiz blog... Is It Torah or Rabbis?

BTW, even though it is election season, I hope Israelis will keep in mind peace in the household, as half of your peeps are out in the world watching. From a distance, it is looking a little like an MMA cage match. Good luck!

 

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