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

Zionists Can, and Do, Criticize Israel. Are Anti-Zionists Capable of Criticizing Anti-Semitism?

Dec. 12 2018

Last week, the New York Times columnist Michelle Goldberg defended the newly elected anti-Israel congresswomen Rashida Tlaib and Ilhan Omar, ostensibly arguing that anti-Zionism and anti-Semitism aren’t identical. Abe Greenwald comments:

Tlaib . . . has tweeted and retweeted her enthusiasm for terrorists such as Rasmea Odeh, who murdered two American students in a Jerusalem supermarket in 1969. If Tlaib’s anti-Zionism is of the Jew-loving kind, she has a funny way of showing it.

Ilhan Omar, for her part, once tweeted, “Israel has hypnotized the world, may Allah awaken the people and help them see the evil doings of Israel.” And wouldn’t you know it, just because she believes that Zionist hypnotists have cast global spells masking Israeli evil, some people think she’s anti-Semitic! Go figure! . . .

Goldberg spends the bulk of her column trying very hard to uncouple American Jewishness from Israel. To do that, she enumerates Israel’s sins, as she sees them. . . . [But] her basic premise is at odds with reality. Zionists aren’t afraid of finding fault with Israel and don’t need to embrace anti-Zionism in order to [do so]. A poll conducted in October by the Jewish Electorate Institute found that a majority of Americans Jews have no problem both supporting Israel and criticizing it. And unlike Goldberg, they have no problem criticizing anti-Semitism, either.

Goldberg gives the game away entirely when she discusses the discomfort that liberal American Jews have felt in “defending multi-ethnic pluralism here, where they’re in the minority, while treating it as unspeakable in Israel, where Jews are the majority.” She adds: “American white nationalists, some of whom liken their project to Zionism, love to poke at this contradiction.” Read that again. She thinks the white nationalists have a point. Because, really, what anti-Semite doesn’t?

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More about: Anti-Semitism, Israel & Zionism, New York Times