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Monday, February 25, 2008

Equality Before the Law

Haaretz today tells the story of Natasha Erdman.

Briefly, this 32-year-old scientist postponed her military service when she was 18 to acquire a BSc (in the IDF's "atuda" programme). Upon graduation from the Technion, she applied and received a scholarship from Northwestern University in the US. The army refused to postpone her service further, so she made a false request to visit a relative in the US, and never came back. She is now, according to the article, a successful and "desirable" PhD in her field. Now she wants to come back to Israel, to be near her parents, and is asking the army to promise she won't be sent to jail (she's still considered a deserter).

Erdman decided to pursue her personal professional goals and abuse the agreement she had with the army. She did so knowingly - after all, she had to apply to Northwestern - and as an adult (she was about 22 years old at the time). Fair enough, that was her choice. But now that it's no longer convenient for her elderly parents to come visit her in the US, she's asking the army to forgive her and not pay the price for her decision.

Erdman has some chutzpah but that is not surprising. This is not the first case of somebody spitting into the well that one day he or she might need to drink from. What really annoys me is the tone of Haaretz. Not a newspaper to miss a chance to laud the principle of equality before the law, this article smacks of sympathy towards Erdman and contempt towards the IDF's position. Why should Erdman be above the law? Shame on Haaretz for so easily shedding its highbrowed principles to support a pseudo-liberal and annoyingly self-serving cause.

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