The Tragedy of Segregation
As I noted in my monograph The Novelty of Orthodoxy, prior to the eighteenth century, a Jew was simply a Jew, with no qualifying description (except for those that adhered to alternate traditions). To be sure, there were Jews that were more committed to Judaism and Jews that were less committed, but all were on a spectrum that was included in the general Jewish community.
Orthodox Jews, on the other hand, identify themselves, and organize themselves, as a community distinct from the general Jewish population which includes non-religious Jews. This was the inevitable result of the transition to a world in which religious commitment was no longer taken for granted and walls had to be built against assimilation.
(A striking example of this change emerges from considering a responsum of a leading pre-Orthodox halachic authority, R. Yaakov Reischer (1661-1733). He was asked about a move to reject the kosher status of meat that was slaughtered in outlying villages by Jews that were insufficiently learned or pious. R. Reischer strongly condemned this approach. Drawing upon the Talmud, he argued that one must not cause resentment, that one must also be considerate of the needs of travelers, and most of all that the Jewish community must be united and not splinter into groups with different halachic standards. Needless to say, such splintering became not only acceptable to Orthodoxy, but even a hallmark of it, exercised to a great degree. For the Orthodox, halachic rulings are based on the needs of the immediate community, not the larger Jewish community. It would be inconceivable to many Orthodox Jews that compromising on kashrus standards is viewed by some as a lechatchilah, while insisting on better hechsherim can be viewed as the wrong choice!)
Yet this approach can have tragic consequences, especially when taken too far. For similar reasons to why Orthodoxy became a distinct sub-community, ultra-Orthodoxy became an even more distinct sub-sub-community, especially in Israel. Yom HaShoah and Yom HaZikaron are prime examples of this.
I completely understand the charedi opposition to observing Yom HaShoah on the anniversary of the Warsaw Ghetto uprising. They see it as implicitly making a statement that those who did not fight back were less worthy or somehow failed - which is indeed how many Jews mistakenly perceive the Holocaust.
But what about the prohibition of Lo Sisgodedu, which Chazal defined as referring to making splinter groups? What about the dictum of "Al tifrosh min hatzibbur - Do not separate from the community"? Let me stress that I am not saying that these should be determinative in this case - but how is it that they are not even considered as a factor at all?
With Yom HaZikaron, it's even more stark. At least with Yom HaShoah, perhaps charedim can say that it's during Nissan, or that they have their own way of commemorating the victims of the Holocaust, etc. But Yom HaZikaron is not during Nissan. And, having learned in charedi yeshivos and lived in charedi communities for many years, I can attest that charedim do not "have their own way" of commemorating the soldiers. Nothing, nada - there is never any mention of the IDF. Furthermore, unlike the Holocaust, where it is only a matter of commemoration, with Yom HaZikaron there is also a very strong aspect of hakaras hatov - expressing gratitude to those who sacrificed themselves, and continue to sacrifice themselves, so that we can have Eretz Yisrael. Moshe Rabbeinu even had hakaras hatov to sand and water! Where is the hakaras hatov for the sacrifices of soldiers? Where are the prayers for the wellbeing of those currently serving? (And yet they wonder why there is ill-will towards them, and ascribe it to evil anti-Torah motives!)
Why is there no hakaras hatov? The reason is that charedim simply do not see the soldiers and themselves as being part of the same community. That's why they not only do not observe Yom HaZikaron along with the rest of Israel, but do not acknowledge the sacrifices of the IDF at all. The IDF is part of a different community. That's why whereas endless attention and prayer was given to charedi yeshivah bochrim in prison in Japan, and to Shalom Rubashkin, virtually no attention and prayer was given to Gilad Shalit. The bochrim are "us," Rubashkin is "us." Shalit is not.
Again, I want to stress that the factors that led to this situation are understandable. Segregation was the inevitable result of the transition to a world in which religious commitment was no longer taken for granted and walls had to be built against assimilation. But when this leads to a situation whereby Torah-observant Jews don't show any hakaras hatov to people who gave their lives for them, it's a tragedy.
I want to end on a positive note, so here is a video showing how certain charedim took it upon themselves to show hakaras hatov to the IDF in a creative and much-appreciated way. It's no surprise that they are mostly Anglos - Jews from the diaspora are inevitably more conscious that what unites us as Jews is more important than what divides us. May they be an inspiration for others.