Theater of the Absurd

This is Hadar Cohen z”l, a 19 year old policewoman serving in Israel’s Border Police, as part of her mandatory military service.

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A couple of days ago she was killed in a terrorist attack in Jerusalem. She shot back at the terrorists, thus averting a larger attack and saving the life of a fellow female policewoman. Hadar was guarding the Damascus Gate, one of the 9 gates to the old city of Jerusalem. This is a highly problematic spot in the city, as this gate is used mainly by Palestinians and faces Arab neighborhoods.

Beyond the pain of losing a young woman to terrorism, Hadar’s death highlights a most absurd aspect of life in Israel.

While Hadar and her female friends get called up to a mandatory military service of 2 years, during which – as was painfully demonstrated in this case – they risk their lives in protecting their country, tens of thousands of men are exempted every year from this duty.

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These are ultra-orthodox men who, through decades of political wheeling and dealing, manage to legally avoid military service (which, for most Israeli men, is 32 months long). Hadar was guarding one of the holiest places of Judaism, allowing these so-called religious believers to visit the old city in relative safety for their daily prayers. But they do not share in the burden of protecting what they consider holy. They expect others to die for protecting them and what they hold sacred.

Israeli politics and society are extremely complex to understand. But sometimes there are moments that a provide vivid and clear understanding of the theater of absurd that is Israel. This is one of those moments.

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