I appreciate your editorial trying to build bridges between the haredi and non-haredi communities (“Jew vs. Jew,” June 24). However, your suggestion that the haredi community reach out to the non-haredi community and that the latter respond positively is naive to say the least.
One of the reasons most frequently cited for the tension between the communities is the refusal of the haredim to serve in the Israel Defense Forces. In my family, a cousin, a new appointee to the Weizmann Institute of Science, an only son, and the father of two toddlers, was killed in battle in the Yom Kippur War while another cousin — a haredi living a mile away — had none of his 10 sons in the service.
The haredi contention that they serve by praying is self-serving and unbelievable.
However, military service is just one area in which the haredim demand special treatment. In their schools, which are state-supported, students are not prepared to serve society as physicians, nurses, police officers, firefighters, or any other essential function that they indeed call upon when the need arises but for which, in their rejection of modernity, they refuse to engage their youth. And despite all the goodies the state grants to them, they return the favor by non-recognition of national days such as Yom Ha’atzmaut, Yom Hazikaron, and Yom Hashoa.
This situation continues because of a combination of secular guilt and the peculiarity of the political system in which the haredi parties will join any coalition assuring continuation of their preferential treatment. Their leadership is not doing a service by denying them participation in the State of Israel and subjecting them to the contempt of non-haredim.