To Deem Yourself With Having Divine Right is Divine Wrong

This weekend, 50,000 American Orthodox Jews packed the Manhattan-bound trains and buses to lower Manhattan this weekend to protest the inclusion of the Orthodox in the Israeli draft, which was presented in the Knesset, the Israeli government, this week. 
 

On Wednesday, the law was passed, mandating all Orthodox Jews be drafted in the same way as other Israelis.

...actually, it will.

Israel itself is a haven for monstrous examples of the car-crash scene of the intersection of religion, politics and sex/gender issues. A religious democracy desperate to assert its right merely to exist in the Middle East with the human rights standards of the West: it's both a dreamy utopia of what could be and a warning for every person in authority to not do in history again. Despite its drama, in a show of its historical success, it is light years over its neighbors in social progress, and specifically the rights of women, as women drive, work and are drafted alongside men. And study after study has shown that when women are empowered, all of society benefits. 


Devout to its founding Jewish fathers and its hard-fought beginnings, the 65-year-old Israeli government has bent over backwards to honor religious freedoms and rights of the Orthodox. One way it has done this is by allowing them to be exempt from the draft because of their ultimate dedication to reading and interpreting the Torah- a praised practice with the intention of securing religious dedication. In Israel, the Orthodox emphasize their right to study the Torah instead of working, and consequently have a high unemployment and poverty rate. They are decidedly a strain on the welfare system, but their representatives in government protect their plight by deeming them martyrs protecting the sanctity of the Jewish state.

But because of the reality that a great number of able-bodied people are escaping service, the Knesset voted on the mandate for the Orthodox in the draft. The mandate has ignited half-million strong protests in the holy land and has spilt into the American Jewry's purview. 

One protester highlighted by the AP explained, "We’re all united against military service for religious men in Israel because it doesn’t allow for religious learning...the Israeli government is looking to destroy religious society and make the country into a secular melting pot." 


To use the words "secular melting pot" with such disdain is the stamp of a sheltered understanding of humanity. It's mildly annoying at the least, and at the most, it's damaging to the international community's utter need for coexistence and is retarding the progress of humankind.

To cultivate an inclusive community is breeding misunderstanding and is respecting false exceptionalism that has no way to grow and no room for discussion and development. To close yourself to one way is to close out another way and to accept not knowing and not understanding others. 


With Wednesday's vote of inclusion in the Knesset, it's likely that the welcoming of the Orthodox will first be a point of contention, but ultimately a great step not only financially and for the sake of fairness, but for coexistence. To expect warriors of men and women who don't want to be is naive, but that urge to resist is not unique to the Orthodox, and for the Orthodox to relate in that shared experience is forcing them to understand a common struggle across religious lines and ultimately to integrate, one step closer to the "Secular Melting Pot" of doom.