Too little, too late, and too political!

Hiddush criticizes the Defense Ministry's recommendations

These recommendations push off the recruitment of yeshiva students until the next government and turn responsibility over to the High Court of Justice. The irony is that even this will be rejected by the ultra-Orthodox parties.

IDF soldier at prayer, Source: WikipediaIDF soldier at prayer, Source: Wikipedia

The Ministry's recommendations make a mockery of the opening statement of the report: "Equality in enlistment to the IDF is a supreme value and is essential for maintaining the IDF... protecting the State of Israel and ensuring its existence."

Despite the positive elements of the recommendations [The imposition of economic sanctions, the anchoring of targets and sanctions in law, and an increase in the number of recruits], politic calculations dictated that the recommendations be softened. Essentially, the Ministry recommended postponing the implementation of these recommendations for many years, so that this hot potato should fall into the laps of future governments and the High Court of Justice. This is too little, too late, and too political!

The irony is that although the recommendations are toothless and long-term, there is no doubt that they will not become law because even these are rejected by the ultra-Orthodox political parties, which demand (as a non-negotiable condition) that any yeshiva student who does not wish to serve will not have to do so. Therefore, these political parties oppose any threat of criminal or economic sanctions.

Israel must balance the importance of Torah study with the principle of a mandatory army service by setting a generous quota for Torah scholar exemptions [about 1,400 per year].

Hiddush's recommendations: Israel must balance the importance of Torah study with the principle of a mandatory army service by setting a generous quota for Torah scholar exemptions [about 1,400 per year]. These will be determined objectively and reliably, and they will receive generous subsistence stipends to enable them to study full-time and be exempt from military service. On the other hand - all others will be charged with military or civilian service, while allowing the IDF to select those who are most suitable for its needs. Those who refuse to bear the burden of defending the state or preforming civil service will face personal and administrative economic sanctions [Revoking of driver's licenses, passports, etc.]. Further, economic sanctions should be levied against yeshivas that "shelter" these draft dodgers.

The position of the ultra-Orthodox parties, as well as the Ministry's recommendations, if implemented, do not advance equality. It is doubtful whether this will lead to a significant and real change in IDF recruitment. Hiddush would expect any Zionist nationalist government to reject drawing a distinction between the blood of yeshiva students and the blood of all those who serve in Israel's military. The government must refuse to perpetuate this immoral reality, whereby only secular and Zionist Orthodox Israelis must risk their lives for the defense of the state, and the government cynically allows exemptions for the ultra-Orthodox public. The religious and political leaders of the ultra-Orthodox community continue to claim with unabashed pretentiousness that their yeshiva studies are solely responsible for guaranteeing the security of the state.

Hiddush would further expect that on such a crucial issue for the future of the state and its egalitarian character, the Zionist parties in the opposition should announce that they too will not agree to any future government coalition deal with the ultra-Orthodox parties, which would not be based on equality in IDF recruitment. They must publicly refuse to acquire the reins of power at the cost of the blood of those who protect Israel with their lives.

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