When the former director of Israel’s security services, (Shin Bet), Ami Ayalon warns that “Blood could be shed over judicial reforms,” it’s probably a good time to take a step back and internalize that unthinkable possibility. Because if that’s where we’re headed, we will, essentially, be taking up the role of Hamas, Islamic Jihad and all the myriads of enemies who would like nothing better than to see our destruction.
It's not hard to understand how we got here, though. Israel, similar to almost any free, democratic and sane nation, is a country which, up until recently, was built upon goodwill, despite our many differences, the appreciation of varied cultures, foods and traditions and one where the people genuinely cared for one another. What changed all of that? Just one thing.
It was the threat of how a power grab could affect the lives of each one of us, causing us to fear that our best days of freedom could soon lie behind us. You see, when one group runs the table, no one else has a chance. Whatever they determine to be just, fair and right is what rules the day.
It doesn’t much matter that a wide majority of citizens believe that military exemptions should not exist for Haredi yeshiva students, something evidenced by survey after survey. The fact that “both government supporters and opposition members believe it is unfair,” doesn’t move the needle, because one group is in charge, and they are the ones that call the shots.
In order to ensure they achieve their goals, one rabbi, Amichai Eliyahu, who belongs to extremist Itamar Ben Gvir’s Jewish Power party, has come up with the ill-advised idea that “the IDF must change to a volunteer military system and release all Israelis who do not wish to serve.” His reasoning is that “even if every Israeli gets drafted, there will never be equality in the IDF.”
Of course, anyone can use that logic in just about every arena of life – “even if everyone works, there will never be equality in the workforce.” Equality is not the reason that anyone does anything. Our young people have willingly deferred their studies, careers and marriages, out of an issue of moral obligation, knowing that not to do so would imperil our country and its citizens. We, unlike other countries, do not have the luxury of having a voluntary military. Israel is surrounded by hostile nations that would like to take her out and would easily be able to do so if we dropped down to a skeleton army. What would happen if we were attacked on multiple fronts with only half of our soldiers left to defend the homeland?
I imagine that Rabbi Eliyahu might be among the first to retract his disastrous idea and plead for more military reinforcements. It’s all too easy to sit comfortably on one’s religious perch and suggest that every accommodation be made to continue financing ongoing studies of these able-bodied, strong, young men, some of whom might actually be happy to fight for their country. It begs the question if anyone has even asked them.
Here's a comical situation. Military reservists, who have refused to continue their voluntary service, as they are no longer obligated to do so by law, have been accused, by this extreme-religious governmental coalition of “trying to pull off a military coup,” by not continuing their vital service. If that isn’t “projection,” I don’t know what is. The only ones here trying to pull off a coup are those who are already in power, but whose lust for more control is driving them to change existing laws, under the guise of “needed reforms,” in order to cleverly bring about a completely different way of life to the country.
But here’s the problem. No one even knows what that way of life would look like, because, reminiscent of former U.S. Speaker of the House, Nancy Pelosi, “you have to pass the bill to know what’s in the bill.” In other words, the framing of these reforms will, likely, also be unknown and even obscured until they are passed, but does anyone believe that the careful crafting of these laws would allow for a wide berth of interpretation as to how a transgression could be perceived and then prosecuted?
Does anyone know what will be mandated and literally forced upon our population? And this brings us to why Ami Ayalon warns that blood could be shed over judicial reforms. Because people are forgiving to a great degree. They can overlook a government that doesn’t share their views. They can even ignore individuals who view them as pagans who reject religious affiliation. What they are not able to overcome, however, is being told how they must live, what they must think and to which oppressive rules they must comply.
All of that is antithetical to a free and democratic Jewish homeland which contradicts the very words of our national anthem, “to be a free people in our own land.” It was never how our initial leaders, who helped establish this nation, saw the future of Eretz Israel. To the contrary, it was visionaries such as Theodor Herzl, credited as the father of modern political Zionism, who, during his early years as a journalist in the Austrian-Hungarian empire, realized that Jews had no future in an increasingly hostile Europe that was turning against its Jewish population. He instinctively knew that a free Jewish state must be formed.
His vision for a Jewish Homeland emerged from the rising persecution he saw which was mired in force and coercion upon his people. It was due to that level of oppression that he said, “We shall live at last as free men on our soil, and die peacefully in our own homes. The world will be freed by our liberty, enriched by our wealth, magnified by our greatness, and whatever we attempt there to accomplish for our own welfare, will react powerfully and beneficially for the good of humanity.”
Those words are what each one of us needs to strive towards – a free country, bathed in liberty and a beacon to all. These are ideals that cannot be realized or achieved through a self-serving power grab which never ends well. May we never arrive at the place of shedding blood, even though others have, in order to preserve their God-given rights of freedom. We must remember that we were never to be reckoned with the nations, because what is permitted to them is not necessarily our standard.
Jews, shedding the blood of other Jews, will simply mean that we have lost our way, our sense of peoplehood and our turning to the Only One who can fix our ills. Until that happens, it doesn’t matter how observant or pious one claims to be, because if their goal is to lead others to forced subservience, then maybe we must question who they really serve – God or themselves!
A former Jerusalem elementary and middle-school principal and the granddaughter of European Jews who arrived in the US before the Holocaust. Making Aliyah in 1993, she is retired and now lives in the center of the country with her husband.