UPDATES 5 pm Israel time Wednesday, July 10 2013:
*As the Israeli government attempts to respond to the demands for social justice in the country, the new defense budget shrinks even more–reaching a level perilously close to leaving Israel vulnerable to its enemies. In the coming year, an entire squadron of the IAF is being grounded indefinitely. More than this, another 4 battalions of reserve soldiers have been eliminated.
*Remember the two rockets that were fired out of the Sinai toward Eilat last week? As was reported on israelstreet, residents heard explosions, but the IDF, unable to find the rockets, determined that no rockets had actually been fired. This morning, one of the missing rockets was found north of the city–just a few hundred meters from where your humble servant currently sits.
Your humble servant, who has gone to extraordinary lengths to defend the ultra orthodox in Israel on a host of issues, would like to add his voice to those in Israel expressing their absolute disgust over an incident that took place in the Mea Shearim neighborhood of Jerusalem yesterday.
To put what happened in context, the current government has been trying to formulate a new law that will compel ultra-orthodox eighteen year olds to enter military (or national) service. The feeling in the country is simply that for too long, ultra-orthodox (haredi) men have had a free lunch; they receive heavy subsidies from the government for everything from children to housing–but in return they contribute nothing to the defense of Israel.
Such a law has now been for written.
But, at the same time, as has been noted on this blog, increasing numbers of ultra-orthodox men have been enlisting in the IDF–so many that an entire Nahal haredi battalion has been created. This is something that many of the ultra-orthodox rabbis cannot tolerate, and they have stepped up their campaigning against military conscription.
All of which brings us to last night.
An ultra-orthodox soldier, dressed in his military uniform, attempted to visit relatives in Mea Shearim–Jerusalem’s ultra-orthodox neighborhood. He was immediately surrounded and attacked by dozens of ultra-orthodox teenagers. Somehow he managed to escape into a nearby building and call the police.
In the meantime a large ultra-orthodox crowd gathered and assaulted the police as they arrived to rescue the soldier. All the while the teenagers yelled curses at haredi soldiers and called the police “Nazis”.
Fortunately, the soldier was spirited away (in civilian attire) unscathed.
Again, your humble servant does not have the words to describe his disgust at this attack. The perpetrators should be brought to justice (4 were arrested last night). As some of the rabbis of the Nahal Haredi Battalion said today:
It was an act of hatred that is un-Jewish and unorthodox. It is blasphemy and a shame and a disgrace.
I could not have said it any better.