A Channel 2 commentator has sparked controversy with a call to see “funerals in Bnei Brak.” The commentator, Nechemia Shtrasler, was adamant that he wants to see hareidi men serve – and die – as combat soldiers.
“It’s impossible that we not have funerals [for fallen soldiers] in Bnei Brak,” he insisted in a discussion with Amnon Avramovitch and Roni Daniel.
While Shtrasler’s fellow commentators said the primary goal in encouraging hareidi Israelis to “share the burden” of military service should be the integration of hareidi men in the workforce, Shtrasler insisted that hareidi men should serve equally in combat units – and moreover, should integrate in the army at large.
“The IDF is the Israeli melting pot. It’s important that hareidi youth sit in the same tent with religious and secular soldiers,” he argued.
To date, hareidi enlistment in the IDF – which remains voluntary – has been primarily to hareidi military units designed to allow soldiers to maintain their strict observance of Torah law (halakha).
Shtrasler has made similar controversial remarks in the past. Two years ago he wrote a column for Haaretz in which he insisted, “We need to get rid of civilian service and force everyone to serve in the military…. That is the only way to achieve equality and to revitalize Israeli society, and it will happen only when all the hareidi Jews enlist in the IDF and military funerals are held in Bnei Brak and Mea Shearim.”