Carrots, Not Sticks, Are the Way to Bring Conscription to Israel’s Arabs and Ultra-Orthodox

March 13 2018

Israel’s governing coalition narrowly avoided collapse this past weekend over the objections of ḥaredi members to legislation that would increase the number of ultra-Orthodox Jews serving in the IDF. Yet the underlying problem is more widespread than that. Currently, notes Yoaz Hendel, only 50 percent of young Israelis enter the military:

There are countless draft dodgers [on] the left and on the right. And there are two groups which the state of Israel has failed to deal with from the very beginning: the Ḥaredim and the Arabs. [However], ḥaredi society has been undergoing a revolution in recent years. About half of the men work [rather than studying full-time]. More and more pursue higher education and thereafter join the labor market. Thousands of Ḥaredim also enlist every year. The reasons—mainly financial—aren’t all that important. The important thing is that, eventually, the integration process will be completed. The state has only two options in this context: to encourage it or to get in the way.

There is no, and there will be no, political solution to the problem. . . . The solution must come in an indirect manner. [The same is true for] Arab society. Generous benefits for anyone who serves in the army, . . . while expanding [opportunities for] national service, [is the best way forward]. . . .

Beyond the benefits, the national-service option should be expanded. ZAKA [a ḥaredi-run organization that responds to terror attacks], United Hatzoloh [an ambulance service], soup kitchens—ḥaredi society excels in such charitable activities, and any such organization can be regulated and incorporated into the national-service program. The hours required can be fixed by law, and ḥaredim can participate alongside their yeshiva studies. The same applies to Arab society: Arabs can and do serve in the fire and rescue services, in the police, or as teaching assistants in schools—and this service should be recognized.

Israel doesn’t need more soldiers, but it must encourage the ḥaredi integration process—not through laws that will be hobbled by political maneuvering but through carrots. Moreover, Israel must create a new generation of Israeli Arabs who define themselves as such and are interested in Israelization rather than [adapting] a Palestinian identity, which fosters separatism and support for terror.

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More about: IDF, Israel & Zionism, Israeli Arabs, Ultra-Orthodox

The Syrian Civil War May Be Coming to an End, but Three New Wars Are Rising There

March 26 2019

With both Islamic State and the major insurgent forces largely defeated, Syria now stands divided into three parts. Some 60 percent of the country, in the west and south, is in the hands of Bashar al-Assad and his allies. Another 30 percent, in the northeast, is in the hands of the mostly Kurdish, and American-backed, Syrian Democratic Forces (SDF). The final 10 percent, in the northwest, is held by Sunni jihadists, some affiliated with al-Qaeda, under Turkish protection. But, writes Jonathan Spyer, the situation is far from stable. Kurds, likely linked to the SDF, have been waging an insurgency in the Turkish areas, and that’s only one of the problems:

The U.S.- and SDF-controlled area east of the Euphrates is also witnessing the stirrings of internal insurgency directed from outside. According to the Syrian Observatory for Human Rights, “236 [SDF] fighters, civilians, oil workers, and officials” have been killed since August 2018 in incidents unrelated to the frontline conflict against Islamic State. . . . The SDF blames Turkey for these actions, and for earlier killings such as that of a prominent local Kurdish official. . . . There are other plausible suspects within Syria, however, including the Assad regime (or its Iranian allies) or Islamic State, all of which are enemies of the U.S.-supported Kurds.

The area controlled by the regime is by far the most secure of Syria’s three separate regions. [But, for instance, in] the restive Daraa province in the southwest, [there has been] a renewed small-scale insurgency against the Assad regime. . . .

As Islamic State’s caliphate disappears from Syria’s map, the country is settling into a twilight reality of de-facto division, in which a variety of low-burning insurgencies continue to claim lives. Open warfare in Syria is largely over. Peace, however, will remain a distant hope.

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More about: ISIS, Kurds, Politics & Current Affairs, Syrian civil war, Turkey