I never, ever thought I'd hear myself say this or think this way. But lately I'm starting to think that perhaps the hareidim have it right. They have fought vigorously against sending their sons to the army. I was disgusted by their refusal to serve and protect and defend their country. I found it disgusting that they expected others to shoulder the burden while they did not.
But - now I'm starting to get it, albeit for different reasons than my fellow hareidi Jews would use.
The stories I've heard from soldiers, chayalim, including one of my own, of the abuse and dangers that our soldiers are expected to subject themselves to daily, all in the interest of of "purity of arms" and "keeping the IDF moral" is heart wrenching, mind boggling, and infuriating all at the same time.
The commander was afraid he'd get in trouble and go to jail. Then, one of the soldier's clothes caught fire from the Molotov cocktail. Still no permission to shoot. Thank G-d, they got out of it somehow, but the soldiers filed a complaint against the commander. And he got in trouble - demotion, time off cancelled. Yet, he was following the orders he had been given. He was in a no-win situation. If he gave the orders to fire, he could have been in trouble or even charged with murder or manslaughter. It's a horrendous situation for anyone to be in, literally under fire from a hostile approaching enemy, while fearing for your future in case your own superiors will press charges against you for simply defending yourself and the soldiers under your command.
We now have the Hevron soldier sitting in a jail while his parents are breaking under the emotional strain of their 19-year-old son being charged with manslaughter for shooting a terrorist who very well could have had explosives on him. It's not like this has never happened before. It has - and soliders have died and lost limbs as a result. He did, in those split seconds, what he thought was the safest thing to do. Better a dead terrorist than dead Jews defending us.
Just what is so wrong with that logic?
Now we have soldiers sentenced to jail over the Passover Holiday for burning a Palestinian Arab flag. This flag represents the desire of a people that want to obliterate our state and flag and replace it with their own while we are driven into the sea or worse. It used to be SOP in the IDF. Now - court martial? Jail? Demotion? Seriously?! Is this not overkill?
No - I do not want my children serving in the army of a country that will not protect and defend them not just as much but much more than it cares for the enemies who only want our death and destruction.
If I give you, the holy IDF, my precious child at the age of 18 or 19, I expect - no, I demand - that you take every precaution to protect every single hair on the head of my kid.
I expect and demand that you give them moral and emotional support.
I demand that the 3 years of freedom and youth they sacrifice to stand at checkpoints in the blazing heat with heavy gear that weighs 1/3 of their body weight giving them stress fractures, or in freezing temperatures on hilltops, will be respected, appreciated, and honored.
My soldier child is not an enemy of the state. My soldier child was brought up on the Torah principles of settling Israel, Yishuv Eretz Yisrael, and giving of themselves to protect the Jewish people and the land of Israel.
I expect and demand medical care when s/he needs it - at least as much as you give the terrorists who get private rooms and TVs and medical care in our hospitals.
I expect and demand that s/he be given proper food and rest to perform their duties, to be alert to meet the life threatening challenges the soldiers face every single minute.
And if my soldier child must use her gun in the split seconds allowed to make life and death decisions, and even if she makes the wrong decision, I expect and demand my government to support her no matter what.
It pains me to say this. Maybe those that chose not to send their children to the army have it right. Maybe they saw the immorality of a Defense Minister Ya'alon and Prime Minister Netanyahu and Chief of Staff Eizenkott who, even before an investigation was performed, publicly -PUBLICLY!!!! - spoke out against our soldier and threw him to the leftist dogs ever so eager to tear our holy chayalim to shreds with their out-of-context videos.
Maybe they sensed that their children would be subjected to impossible choices, subjected to public humiliation, that no matter what they do it will be deemed wrong and they will pay for it either with their own life forfeited to the enemy or with a long jail sentence for defending themselves. Maybe some parents decided that it would be more prudent to sit this one out since a morally corrupt, misguided government cares more for the opinions of the EU, UN, and US than for our holy chayalim.
We are in a war. But we are not in a war with soldiers from a sovereign country. We are in a war with terrorists who have no boundaries, whose only mission is to kill us, destroy us, and replace our state with theirs. It makes no difference to them if their target is pregnant women, babies, little kids on bikes or riding in car seats. They are the enemy. Not my soldier child.
It's ridiculous that I even need to point that out to you.
My soldier child is holy as is every soldier in the IDF. Right, wrong or indifferent we need to defend each of them morally and spiritually and legally for they are defending us with their very lives. The least we can do is stand by them - right, wrong, or indifferent - in every situation.