Service for all

82% of Israeli Jews support a law of mandatory conscription for yeshiva students

68% of Israeli Jews support denying subsidies to those who don’t serve in the army, 69% support the Supreme Court decision to invalidate the Tal Law*, and 82% support passing a law that would force most yeshiva students to enlist.

Netzach Yehuda Battalion soldier during prayer. 23.11.2006. Photo: Abir Sultan, Flash 90Netzach Yehuda Battalion soldier during prayer. 23.11.2006. Photo: Abir Sultan, Flash 90

68%, more than two-thirds of the Jewish population of Israel, including 81% of Likkud voters, support withholding public funding for yeshiva students if they refuse to enlist in military or civil service. 82% of the Jewish Israeli population hold that in the aftermath of the Supreme Court’s ruling that invalidates the Tal Law, a new law must be passed to enforce mandatory conscription of all or most yeshiva students into service. 69% support the Supreme Court’s decision to invalidate the Tal Law.

These are the findings of a new poll conducted by the Smith Institute on behalf of Hiddush – Freedom of Religion for Israel, Inc. The poll was conducted in the last week of February, based on a representative sample of 500 adult Jews in Israel.

Hiddush President, Rabbi Uri Regev says “The poll proves unequivocally that the Israeli public is sick and tired with politically motivated mass exemption [currently app. 60,000, about 14% of the conscription] and is demanding mandatory service for yeshiva students. Integration of the ultra-Orthodox population into service will only happen if public funding for yeshiva students is conditional upon that service. The question is whether the government leaders will stay true to the voters who elected them and to the core values of Israel”

69% of the Jewish Israeli population, 83% of secular Israelis and 84% of recent immigrants (typically from the Former Soviet Union) support the Supreme Court decision invalidating the Tal Law. 29% are opposed to the decision. 86% of the ultra-Orthodox population opposed it. Of those who supported the Court decision: 87% of Yisrael Beiteinu voters, 73% of Likud voters, and 30% of voters for ultra-Orthodox parties. This somewhat surprising result can be explained by the fact that among Shas voters, there is a significant number of traditional and religious Jews who oppose army exemption for yeshiva students.

Hiddush President, Rabbi Uri Regev: “The Israeli public is sick and tired of the politically motivated mass exemption of yeshiva students from sharing in the civic burden of defense of the country”

52% of the Israeli Jewish public support the passing of a new law that requires service, either military or civil, of all yeshiva students, and another 30% support recruiting all except for a limited number of outstanding yeshiva students. Altogether, 82% are in favor of mandatory recruitment for all or most yeshiva students into service. Of secular Israelis, 96% are in favor of such a law. Among religious respondents who are not ultra-Orthodox, 51% are against such a law and 49% are in favor. 91% of Likud voters are in favor of such legislation, 95% of Yisrael Beiteinu voters and 100% of Kadima voters.

85% of secular respondents, 87% of recent immigrants and 68% of the Jewish Israeli population as a whole are in favor of denying subsidies for those yeshiva students who do not serve. Of all respondents, Likud voters showed the highest support for such withholding of subsidies, 81% supporting, more than the 79% of both Yisrael Beiteinu and Kadima voters. 52% of voters for right wing religious parties supported withholding subsidies.


*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.


See the Jerusalem Post's coverage here

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