Gideon Aran: Fundamentalist Violence and Military Service

The Haredim refuse to be conscripted into Israel Defense Forces. For years now they have been exempted by the State of Israel from this demanding duty despite the resentment of the majority of the Jewish population who complain of the unequal distribution of the heavy load of national security.

Written By Gideon Aran

The fact that in their bitter clashes with the police the Haredim often show an impressive level of physical performance gives rise to a lay reaction to the tune: ‘Well, since it turns out that the Haredim are not only bold and aggressive, but are also strong and athletic, there is no reason why they should not serve in the army’. Some, very few individual Haredim used to join the army in the past, though filling only a particular niche, serving in auxiliary jobs such as teachers or kashruth supervisors.

It was only in the late 1990s that ever larger numbers of Haredim began to be drafted into the army, organized in organic units and designated to become combat troops. This revolutionary development has brought the issue into the center of the Israeli public discourse and has caused much commotion in the Haredi quarters. Haredi fighters became the bone of contention threatening to split the Haredi community but also trail blazers in search for ways out of the Haredi predicament. They thus became both deviants and a promising avant-garde.

Taken from “Body, Violence and Fundamentalism: The Case of Jewish Ultra-Orthodoxy” By Gideon Aran.

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