Booklets encouraging students not to join the IDF that compares soldiers to Nazis and cannibals have been distributed in recent days in mainstream yeshivas. They have also been sent via emails, with the recipients requested to print physical copies to distribute them to yeshivas.
The 57-page “guide, ” produced by Haredi (ultra-Orthodox) Jews, describes the trajectory that awaits young persons of their sector from their first call-up notice. It claims that the IDF representatives who meet with them during the process only seek to harm them. It thus recommends avoiding cooperating with them as much as possible. “For the next hour, ” the booklet says, “they will examine your every smile and every sentence to give you a deadly assessment, similar to the ‘assessors’ at Auschwitz’s gates of death who assessed the state of every youth, and even the slightest change could determine his fate to die.”
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The booklet is no signed by any official organization, but, as opposed to previous similar publications in the past against service in the IDF, it cannot be associated only to known anti-Zionist groups, as it is directed for mainstream yeshiva students. Amongst its distributors are members of “the Jerusalem faction” of the Lithuanian Haredi sector.
‘You are strong; they won’t move you!’
The faction’s leader, Rabbi Shmuel Auerbach, declared war against the law to draft ultra-Orthodox Jews, including its modified and weaker version. He blamed senior Haredi leaders in that matter, and he ordered his followers not to present themselves at all at the induction office as required. His faction also organizes from time to time demonstrations at central junctions throughout the country in response to arrests of yeshiva student deserters.
Young ultra-Orthodox youth are warned in the guide not to be impressed with the warm reception that they receive in the induction office, as it has but one goal: enticing them to leave the world of Torah. The soldiers whom they will meet there appear as “cannibals” via a series of fables and stories.
“It’s not excitement and admiration of your many skills and your special personality, ” the booklet reads, “They don’t need you as a person. They need you as a pound of meat…for every person that they draft, they get money—a lot of money.”
Those distributing the material take advantage of the opportunity to warn the yeshiva students of “collaborators and mercenaries” who work trying to draft them outside of bases in civilian appearance: “They roam the fringes of Haredi society and constantly engage in hunting souls… According to various estimations and calculations, the authorities invest tens of thousands of shekels for one ‘Haredi head’ that can be a hearty meal for a large team of ‘modern cannibals.’ It should be eminently clear to you: Nobody escapes from this trap.”
In light of this, the booklet recommends, “It doesn’t matter how successful, witty, brilliant and extensively knowledgeable in different fields you are. In this interview, endeavor to know the minimum that every yeshiva student knows, and speak of less than that—and with serious consideration.
‘Guide for the called up: So that you’ll get through your call up in peace’
To avoid being assigned a suitable position, the booklet recommends disregarding the instructions for the tests administered in the draft process: “On the computerized test, don’t waste your time, and don’t read the questions. For every question, strike ‘Enter, ‘ and you’ll finish the test in a few seconds. Being nice is wonderful—outside of the induction office.
“At the office, you’re nobody’s friend. You don’t go with anything, aren’t open, and don’t get dragged to anything. Don’t try to leave an impression on anyone, even if you’re intelligent and pleasant. In the office, you’re just a dry and dull character who doesn’t get jokes, doesn’t know how to smile, and just came to hand over forms and leave.”
To strengthen the yeshiva students’ resolve in the rightness of their path, the booklet besmirches the IDF and its soldiers: “When we see tanks, planes, rifles—the heart may be impressed. So we go back and review: Zeroes. (The soldiers are) not even stinking maggot flies. Like children who play with Lego and build planes and ships.”
Regarding ultra-Orthodox who do serve in the army: “Those soldiers and commanders are destroying the country and its inhabitants… Those poor zeroes, who run about with their rifles to and fro, playing at (a children’s program) as if they were protecting something or other.”
Those who can no longer learn Torah and are interested in leaving yeshiva are warned not to serve in the army: “You learned for a quarter hour during that time (during a period of a few months —KN)? That quarter hour is your defense of the people of Israel (and yourself) more than any of those soldiers for their three years (of service).”
The booklet also alleges that there are also less spiritual reasons to dodge the draft: fear of dying, the “tyranny” of commanders, abuse of soldiers (mainly religious ones) and loneliness. “In the secular public, anyone who can dodge the draft dodges, ” the booklet alleges, “Don’t be a sucker. It’s a lot easier to sit in jail for three years than to be in the army for three years. Inside the army, you don’t have a family to go back to…Families have broken apart, fathers have declined, children have become orphans while their fathers are alive because of a reckless move of induction.”
The IDF is described as a “dark, cruel, cold and aloof” place that brings soldiers to utter depression and complete exhaustion. The booklet alleges that the suicide rate (“number 1 cause of death in the IDF”) is higher and that “for every person who commits suicide, there are another hundred who wanted to and who didn’t have a weapon on hand, and a thousand wandering about with suicidal thoughts.”
The booklets’ authors summarize their principal rules that must never be ignored: Don’t sign any document (“even if it states that you’re a yeshiva student or if it’s washing machine instructions”), don’t wear a uniform (“even just for a photo”) and don’t come to the induction office without a hat and suit (“a clear recipe for problems”).
“Make up whatever you want— just don’t sign, ” the booklet adds. “Say that you swore to your father with a handshake that you wouldn’t sign. Tell them that you swore to your mother that you wouldn’t sign. Tell them that you made a thousand-dollar bet with your friend that you wouldn’t sign.”