The dead of north Tel Aviv (Part 2)
It also has to be understood that the ultra-Orthodox leaders' main aim is to preserve life. No, not the lives of us all but only of their sons, relatives and voters.
Facts and figures don't make an impression on anyone. If you have an opinion, it will always be right. No one can move you from it, not even with a bulldozer. It's also clear that the more stubborn you are, the more you'll consider yourself a flexible person willing to listen, willing to learn and change. But the facts and numbers you receive are never convincing, so you stick to your position.
Last Friday in this column, I presented data about the high rate of army enlistment among male graduates of state schools in Tel Aviv: 95 percent. Of them, there was a high percentage in combat units: 38 percent - higher than the national average. I added that the percentage of graduates from north Tel Aviv high schools who go on to officers' courses is especially high: around 10 percent.
But these figures made no impression on the people who insist on reviling those empty-headed tzfonbonim - spoiled north Tel Avivians - who hang around Rothschild Boulevard's cafes all day and, at most, do their army service at the Israel Defense Forces' radio station. Those hard-liners say the facts I've discussed are rubbish because "any child knows that in combat units there's not a soul from Tel Aviv - just Russians and religious Zionists. It's a fact that not a single funeral procession ever leaves from Tel Aviv."
That saying - that there are no fallen soldiers from Tel Aviv - has become a myth that needs to be addressed. Its foundation lies in Razi Barkai's interview of Gen. Elazar Stern in August 2006, against the backdrop of the Second Lebanon War. "In those [Tel Aviv] houses there is no bereavement, hardly any," Stern said.
Two MA students in economics, Kfir Katz and Hillel Laufer, decided to examine this sensitive issue in a scientific way. They ran the figures through a computer and found that in the 1980s around 90 soldiers from Tel Aviv on average were killed for every 100,000 young men of army age. They also found that this was the average number of fallen all over the country.
They continued their research and found that by 2000, Tel Aviv, which is so defamed, was losing more soldiers than the national average. The number now was 48 soldiers from Tel Aviv compared with 43 in the rest of the country. An additional check found that from 1991 to 2009, more Tel Aviv soldiers were killed on average than in other cities - Haifa, Be'er Sheva, Jerusalem, Ashdod, Bat Yam, Holon, Netanya, Petah Tikva, Rishon Letzion and Ramat Gan.
That is, the young men of Tel Aviv who enlist in the IDF at a very high rate both volunteer more than average for combat units and pay with their blood a little above average. If that's the case, where did Stern's warped opinion come from?
Maybe it's because Tel Aviv is a big city, so there's the expectation that the number of fallen there would be high. But we're talking about a statistical error here. You can't count the number of dead based on the size of a city or community. You must count it based on the young people of army age. That's the relevant fact, not the total number of residents. After all, Tel Aviv has a very high percentage of adults and elderly people, for example.
It's true that the entire issue has been distorted. Why should anyone want to compete over the number of dead? It's better to argue about quality of life, the theater and love. But what can be done if we live in Sparta and live by the sword? When that's the situation, sacrifice and deaths are of great importance.
It also has to be understood that the ultra-Orthodox leaders' main aim is to preserve life. No, not the lives of us all but only of their sons, relatives and voters. That's why they do their utmost to ensure that this community's young people crowd into the "cities of refuge" - yeshivas and kollelim, where married men study. They will even agree to a wasteful and unnecessary national service that is safe, as long as the secular donkey and religious Zionist mule continue to join the IDF and die in their stead. Elementary, my dear Watson.