Growing up, the narrative that Ultra Orthodox Jews (aka “Charedim”) had as to why they weren’t serving in the military was that they were actually performing their own crucial service – they were protecting the country spiritually.
The harder they studied and prayed, the more protected the soldiers on the front lines would be.
This idea has of course emerged during the current conflict, with the help of AI illustrated art, with gems such as these:
It’s hard to express just how offensive this attitude is. Go tell a soldier freezing his ass off on the frontline, go tell a veteran missing his legs, go tell the parents who lost their child, that your studying from a 2,000 book in your airconditioned hall, studying very hard, mind you, is akin to their sacrifice.
The fact remains that Ultra Orthodox Jews suffer almost no causalities in Israel’s major altercations. There are families in Israel who have a tradition of losing multiple family members – a grandfather in 1956, an uncle in 1973, a son in 2009. Israeli society is pockmarked with these societal wounds – and orthodox Jews have largely been spared them.
I don’t care if these opinions are espoused by people who also served in the military, which is sometimes the case. Hats off to you for your military service. Now shut up and don’t pretend you’re still serving when you’re back in front of a book.
I’m also not here to say that everyone should serve. I believe the decision to die for a country is a personal one. I support people who choose not to, for any reason. But goddamn, don’t pretend to be involved when you’re not, and don’t pretend to be part of a solution when you’re doing nothing, and definitely don’t claim to have made one iota of the sacrifice made anyone who has given years of their life, or their life itself, to protect others.