A step forward
Hiddush commends Supreme Court ruling on Tal Law
Today’s historic Supreme Court ruling, by a majority of 6:3, voided the “Tal Law” and said mass exemption of Yeshiva students from military service must be stopped
The meeting of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee about Tal Law. From the right: Knesset member Shaul Mofaz Head of the commitee, Knnesset memberYohanan Plesner head of the Tal law supervision team, Head of Army HR Major-General Orna Barbivai. 23.1.12. Photograph by: Kobi Gideon, Flash 90.
Rabbi Uri Regev, head of Hiddush – Freedom of Religion for Israel, commended the Supreme Court for its courageous ruling, that the Tal Law* is illegal and cannot be extended. Regev said “The Court did what the politicians should have done long ago, but refused to do. The court upheld the principle of equality under the law and rejected the unacceptable government policies that exempted the ultra-Orthodox from putting their lives on the line in defense of the country.”
At a Knesset special meeting on the Tal Law and the future of ultra-Orthodox participation in the army this past month, Rabbi Regev spoke and presented Hiddush’s fact sheet on ultra-Orthodox army evasion and the risks non-enlistment poses for the State of Israel.
Regev called on the government and Knesset to fully implement the ruling, and not attempt at legislative acrobatics to circumvent it. “The new Bill must ensure drafting of most yeshiva students, while allowing [and supporting] the continued studies of a small number who excel in their studies, as are other youth who excel in their fields are exempted.”
“Any attempt”, said Regev, “to reintroduce a law that would perpetuate the mass draft dodging by ultra-Orthodox men will be punished by the public in the voting booths, and will not stand legal scrutiny.”
*The Tal Law, named after Justice Tal who chaired the committee that recommended it, was passed in 1999 and was meant to provide a legislated framework to the long standing administrative practice of exempting yeshiva students from military service. It was intended to encourage greater participation in both military and civil service, as well as the workforce. In six months, the law will expire and it is widely held that it failed its purpose and provided for only negligible growth in each of these areas.
Findings of the 2011 Hiddush Israel Religion and State Index on army/civil service by ultra-Orthodox Yeshiva students: 87% of the Jewish population [93% of the non-Haredi] want them to serve; 95% of Likkud voters!
Hiddush’s Annual Israel Religion and State Index 2011
93% of non-ultra-Orthodox Jewish Israeli respondents -- Yeshiva students must be required to do either military or national or service.
93% of non-ultra-Orthodox Israeli respondents and 87% of the Jewish Israeli public as a whole believe that yeshiva students must be required to do either national or military service. Of these respondents, 40% believe that full-length military service should be required, 10% favor a cap of exemptions and enlistment of the rest, and 37% would require at least national service. This is also part of a growing desire to see more ultra-Orthodox yeshiva students at work.
The Court did what the politicians should have done long ago, but refused to do.
98% of recent immigrants are in favor of requiring the service of yeshiva students, of which 75% are in favor of full-length military service. These immigrants seem unwilling to recognize yeshiva studies as a reason for exemption, and do not see the cultural diversity of the ultra-Orthodox as a reason to require civil service instead of military.
Support for mandatory service among Orthodox respondents is 72%, but 41% are willing to settle for civil service requirements.
The subject of duty to serve enjoys total consensus outside the ultra-Orthodox public, but this stands in contrast to the correlation typically seen; in general, as political affiliation tends to the right, support for freedom of religion and state goes down. Here, however, the more right politically one tends, the less likely one is to settle for civil service as a replacement for military duty. For example, 98% of Kadima voters are in favor of mandating service, but half (49%) are willing to settle for national service. Numbers are similar amongst voters of Labor and Meretz. In contrast, 95% of Likkud voters favor mandating service, but only a little more than third (37%) would be satisfied with national service. For voters of Israel Beiteinu, results are even clearer; 94% support requirements for service, but only 25% would be willing to accept national service as a substitute.
See Ha'aretz coverage of the Supreme Court decision