Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has delayed discussion of extending a law for five more years that allows yeshiva students to delay their military service.
For thousands of young Israelis, the sun-drenched archipelagos of Southeast Asia were the perfect destination to forget the rigors of military service.
But this week, that post-Zionist nirvana became a nightmare. The tsunami that swept India, Thailand, Sri Lanka and the Andaman Islands on Sunday plunged hundreds of Israeli families into a frenzy of worry over relatives feared lost while touring.
Talk about trading places. Last month, Gil Na'amati finished his three-year stint of compulsory military service after serving in Israel's artillery corps and spending time operating in the West Bank. Now the 22-year-old kibbutznik is the poster boy for Palestinian grievances against Israel.
During a demonstration last week by Palestinians and Israeli left-wingers against Israel's West Bank security barrier, Na'amati was shot by soldiers, who until recently might have stood shoulder to shoulder with him at a checkpoint. An American activist also was lightly hurt in the clash.
Today I received a phone call from an 18-year-old named Steven. Steven and I were scheduled to meet at Starbucks in a few days, prior to his leaving for U.S. military service. He called to let me know that he could not keep our appointment as the Marine Corps insisted that he report for duty that very evening, two weeks ahead of schedule. I asked him for his Hebrew name (Shlomo Yakar ben Nechama) to add his name to our prayers recited each Shabbos on behalf of the entire American and Israeli Defense Forces.
"Once a person has died, what difference would it make to him if someone else were to live in his house, or harvest his grapes, or even marry his betrothed?"