The petition, which includes 17 petitioners and 29 affidavits from a variety of units, reveals the new chief of staff’s policy – the elimination of old age permits in the IDF, an illegal directive because it is in complete violation of the existing ordinance that allows exemption for a soldier. In a series of testimonies, evidence and original military documents the petition describes a policy that began several months ago, was quickly laid down and unit after unit denied the bearded servants the permit en masse.
At the same time, the possibility for the vast majority of servants to receive an old-age exemption without any justification or due process was blocked.
This is a precedent-setting petition in which many dozens of soldiers actually claim that the IDF and the Chief of Staff are lying for a long time and institutionally. This petition comes after a series of allegations in other contexts, including by senior reservists about a “false culture” that has taken root in the military.
The testimonies and evidence submitted to the High Court in three voluminous volumes – can leave no room for doubt as to the existence of the new policy.
The struggle for a beard exemption, which has been working for a year and a half for the basic right to allow a beard exemption in the IDF, has intensified its activities in recent months, following the change in reality on the ground, leading a mass funding campaign .
In addition, as part of the struggle’s activities, some 7,000 signatures were collected in the petition, a series of omissions were revealed, and videos created to promote the struggle reached hundreds of thousands of views on social media.
As stated, the IDF strongly denies the existence of the policy, despite dozens of unequivocal evidences from soldiers, commanders and officers telling of the new “spirit of the commander”, including the Commissioner of Admissibility of Soldiers himself admitted:
“As a general rule, the Chief of Staff’s directive is to reduce the number of permits, so even in cases where the commander’s recommendation is for approval of the permit, the applications are approved in exceptional cases.”
Similarly, in the summary of an official discussion in the Air Force, it was explicitly stated that “the policy of the army and the Air Force is not to approve exemptions for the elderly.”
As part of the attempt to deny the policy, some units have gone so far as to even set limited quotas for the number of beards in the unit, even though this is an illegal policy that does not allow for individual discretion.
In the Navy, for example, “the unit allocated a quota of 2% of permits for personal reasons only.”
A large part of the petition attacks the discrimination between religious and secular that arises as a result of the renowned chief of staff’s policy.
In contrast, secular soldiers whose beards are part of their identity seeking a personal beard exemption encounter in the vast majority of times an immediate refusal.
This creates significant discrimination between different populations who serve together in the same army, in the same unit.
For example, in one of the well-known infantry units, one of the declarants in the petition shares that “the BAH’s policy is not to approve requests to grow a beard for personal reasons. In my company, not a single request for personal reasons was accepted, however many requests were received, By someone who does not lead a religious lifestyle. “
Further discrimination in the wake of the Chief of Staff’s denied policy, and no less severe, is between senior military officials and junior soldiers. For weeks, the headquarters of the struggle for the old age exemption has compiled a list of over 200 senior officers (Major and above) Bearded men representing a lack of personal example and a serious violation of the principle of equality vis-à-vis the soldiers required for the shaving duty, without any ability to maintain their identity.
This is a historic petition in another sense – this is the first time that such a large number of soldiers in compulsory service join the only way that is legally available to them to petition against the IDF and its leader.
The petition, which covers more than 65 pages, was submitted to the High Court by the leaders of the struggle for the exemption of Zaken Bar Pinto and Gilad “the Bearded” Levy. Bar, experts in military law who successfully led the petition on the matter in 2015.
Comments of the struggle directors and the petition’s attorney:
Bar Pinto, Capt. Res., Director of the Struggle for Beard Exemption:
“It is unfortunate that these days the IDF is deciding to wage its wars against the bearded soldiers and not against the real enemies. They came to serve and defend the country, and no commander in the army has the authority to decide that the old man is not part of the soldiers’ identity. Their place and sadness in the People’s Army, where religious and secular people fight shoulder to shoulder against a common enemy – The IDF consciously chooses to discriminate between the servants and further lies about the existence of the policy with a determined forehead. Instead of bridging and creating equality where possible – the chief of staff deepens the rift in a society that is already so divided.”
Gilad “The Bearded” Levy, Sergeant Major in the Res., Leads the fight for an beard exemption:
There is no reason why a soldier whose beard is part of his identity should have to choose between injuring himself inside and lying to the military rabbi inside. It is time for the IDF to deal with the professionalism of the soldiers and stop treating the soldiers who grow beards. As a warrior and commander I have experienced the severe discrimination that anyone who is considered “not religious enough” has been harmed by. Today, tens of thousands of soldiers stand with us and demand – let us grow a beard and serve with dignity. “
Yochi Baruch, the initiator of the struggle for the beard exemption:
“This petition is also filed on behalf of dozens of soldiers who have been imprisoned in recent months because they wanted to preserve their identity.
Behind this petition are thousands of soldiers for whom the daily shave takes their identity, shames and humiliates them every morning anew.
We are filing this petition for the Israel Defense Forces of all of us, to help him stop fighting his soldiers and commanders, and finally also lose many of them against the background of the painful and unnecessary shave. I call on the Chief of Staff to stop lying and discriminating. We only have one IDF. We must keep it clean of lies, cover-ups and sectoral discrimination. “
Adv. Efrat Nachmani-Bar, and Adv. Lior Shtelzer, who filed the petition on behalf of the petitioners, stated:
“The real story behind the petition is not the elders. It is a struggle for the image and character of the IDF as a value-based, truth-telling organization, in which commanders set a positive example for their subordinates and do not arbitrarily abuse the power given to them and then try, in gross manipulations, to hide it. It should be remembered: the legal situation is clear: every person whose beard is part of his identity should be allowed to grow up and should not be discriminated against between different groups of soldiers, religious versus secular, juniors versus seniors. The concealment of the military stems precisely from the understanding that the directive and policy are illegal. Now the truth has been exposed in its nakedness. “
For more details and to coordinate interviews:
Bar Pinto, director and spokesman for the struggle for the beard exemption,