A subculture can be looked upon as a group of people that, though may fall under the umbrella of an overarching culture, represent unique and distinct values and norms. Whilst the majority may favor an act or look upon a certain way of living as “acceptable”, a subculture tends to intentionally deviate. While small or primarily agrarian places of living tend to be culturally uniform, looking at a society from a more macro point of view reveals unique ways of life and tends to make acceptable or unacceptable certain acts practiced by the majority of people in that same society. Sociologists Lloyd Ohlin and Richard Cloward defended that this intentional deviance may be influenced by the various structures and opportunities that one encounters in his or her lifetime. Different life experiences make possible the emergence and sustaining of such cultures despite them being completely different from their mother culture. Though sometimes subtle, a majority of subcultures are defined by extreme/substantial variance from the commons, and may represent, especially in young populations, a lack of content or dramatic shifts in popular belief. Different subcultures exist–criminal, conflict/gang, or retreatist. While many groups may be placed under these categories, the subculture that will be discussed in the following paragraph represents the fastest growing segment of the Israeli population today, the ultra-Orthodox Haredim Jews. Extreme religious conservatives who opposed the founding of an Israeli state before the coming of the Messiah, have accepted Israel as a place to live and die, and have become dependent solely on government subsidies and donations for their economically unproductive ways of life. As they and their children spend years of their lives studying the Torah and the teachings and practices of ancient Judaism, they have employed political power alongside religious Zionists, to block or coerce the Knesset coalitions to conceding rights and allowing exceptions with respect to themselves and their families (military exemptions). This subculture, which is thought to pose a threat to Israel’s secular way of life, is of concern to government officials, and secular Jews with a strong nationalistic identity. Some countries may cautiously, yet reluctantly accept these changes, simply disregard and shun them, or may overreach typical bounds and impose stern and severe repercussions for continuing these acts.
An interesting article, “Ultra Orthodox Oppose Conscription, not the IDF” highlights the growing disparity among the different groups of Haredim Jews of their attitudes towards the IDF. Whilst all of the ultra-conservatives have opposed and will continue to oppose the attempted conscription of their young (18-22) year old yeshiva/rabbinical students into the armed forces, a strange paradox exists. Despite the elders active protest and fears, ultra-Orthodox children gathered with olive-green costumes and plastic machine guns to represent their appreciation towards those who allow them to live and worship in peace…the paradox, “a mix of both affection and fear”. April 22, the national Memorial Day for the IDF’s fallen soldiers, marks a time of both “guilt” and “fear” for the conservatives. Guilt, because they do not feel as if they are part of a large, mourning family of Jews, and fear, because they seek to not wash down their way of life by “evicting control” over their children while they are still young and vulnerable. Some groups of Haredim, including Neturei Karta and Eidah Hareidis are vehemently opposed to any type of military recruitment, while groups like the Shas are more “forgiving” of their youth’s decisions. Between these two extremes on a continuum, however, are a majority of ultra-conservative Jews, who, while they appreciate and do not at all oppose the IDF of the role they play in Israeli society, see “Torah study” as their most important asset. The conservatives continue to defend that if it were not for the yeshiva, Israel would not be as strong as they are. While they do not completely discount the role the IDF has played in their lives, they regard yeshiva is extremely vital. Rabbi Dov Halbertal argues that the issue is more complex-Orthodox fear that because the military is a “melting pot”, their young will become less and less Orthodox. They see the exemption from conscription as a means by which they can publicly guard their “ethnicity and identity”. Despite these fears, most ultra-Orthodox Jews “admire and venerate” the IDF and regard it as an important institution, an institution that is not an instrument of Zionist control, but a means of protection for Jews and their way of life. As secular Jews and politicians have become more frustrated with the law, and subsequently more adamant about the need for ultra-Orthodox to contribute man-power to the defense cause, the ultra’s have become even more stern about their opposition. What started as a concession to 400 ultra-Conservatives to revive the Jewish cause after many scholars were brutally murdered in the Holocaust under Hitler’s regime, became a mass of “unproductive”, rocking Jews, whose way of life has impeded economic and social progress for Israel, and more specifically, the expansion of the military. The Haredim subculture has become extremely controversial in their attitudes towards conscription, prompting many young Israelis to protest the law and the ultra’s simple, contradictory way of life. But until the ultra-Orthodox are not a vital side of the coin in coalition establishment, are no longer politically aligned with the powerful religious nationalists, and do not wield the power of prayer, the cause of the secularists seems unpromising at best.
Goldman, Mordechai. “Ultra-Orthodox Oppose Conscription, Not the IDF – Al-Monitor: The Pulse of the Middle East.” Al-Monitor. N.p., 24 Apr. 2015. Web. 02 May 2016.
“Richard CLOWARD & Lloyd OHLIN.” Richard Cloward & Lloyd Ohlin. N.p., n.d. Web. 02 May 2016.