Exempting Ultra-Orthodox Israelis from Army Service Might Be the Best Way to Get Them to Enlist

The Israeli politician Avigdor Lieberman’s insistence on increasing the number of Ḥaredim conscripted into the IDF—and ḥaredi politicians’ refusal to accept any such proposal—left Benjamin Netanyahu unable to form a governing coalition, precipitating the upcoming do-over elections. Meanwhile, the Religious Zionist parliamentarian Naftali Bennett and the leftist Ehud Barak have both endorsed a very different alternative to the current laws that allow ḥaredi men to avoid conscription by studying in yeshivas indefinitely. Amiḥai Attali writes:

[Barak and Bennett] are talking about a solution from outside the box: full exemption for ultra-Orthodox from serving in the army. No [enlistment] quotas and no criminal sanctions [for those who evade the draft], and no one forced to enlist against his will. . . . Such a solution would lead to the yeshivas being emptied of the considerable number of ultra-Orthodox boys seeking asylum there. The military police could no longer be used by rabbis as a tool to . . . force those whose souls do not desire to study the Torah to do so. As a result, the [state-subsidized] yeshiva budgets that are calculated per capita would shrink drastically. . . .

All those who leave the yeshiva would not have to leave the ultra-Orthodox world; they would be able to integrate into academia, the workforce, and even the army.

There has been a big shift in the ḥaredi community with exponential growth in the number of ultra-Orthodox men and women entering higher education. . . . Young people who grew up in households in which the only option was to study at a kollel (a religious seminary for married men) will, [absent pressure to avoid military service], suddenly have the opportunity to live an ultra-Orthodox lifestyle while making an honest living and strengthening the economy while they’re at it.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Avigdor Lieberman, Ehud Barak, IDF, Israeli politics, Naftali Bennett, Ultra-Orthodox, Yeshiva

While Israel Is Distracted on Two Fronts, Iran Is on the Verge of Building Nuclear Weapons

Iran recently announced its plans to install over 1,000 new advanced centrifuges at its Fordow nuclear facility. Once they are up and running, the Institute for Science and International Security assesses, Fordow will be able to produce enough highly enriched uranium for three nuclear bombs in a mere ten days. The U.S. has remained indifferent. Jacob Nagel writes:

For more than two decades, Iran has continued its efforts to enhance its nuclear-weapons capability—mainly by enriching uranium—causing Israel and the world to concentrate on the fissile material. The International Atomic Energy Agency recently confirmed that Iran has a huge stockpile of uranium enriched to 60 percent, as well as more enriched to 20 percent, and the IAEA board of governors adopted the E3 (France, Germany, UK) proposed resolution to censure Iran for the violations and lack of cooperation with the agency. The Biden administration tried to block it, but joined the resolution when it understood its efforts to block it had failed.

To clarify, enrichment of uranium above 20 percent is unnecessary for most civilian purposes, and transforming 20-percent-enriched uranium to the 90-percent-enriched product necessary for producing weapons is a relatively small step. Washington’s reluctance even to express concern about this development appears to stem from an unwillingness to acknowledge the failures of President Obama’s nuclear policy. Worse, writes Nagel, it is turning a blind eye to efforts at weaponization. But Israel has no such luxury:

Israel must adopt a totally new approach, concentrating mainly on two main efforts: [halting] Iran’s weaponization actions and weakening the regime hoping it will lead to its replacement. Israel should continue the fight against Iran’s enrichment facilities (especially against the new deep underground facility being built near Natanz) and uranium stockpiles, but it should not be the only goal, and for sure not the priority.

The biggest danger threatening Israel’s existence remains the nuclear program. It would be better to confront this threat with Washington, but Israel also must be fully prepared to do it alone.

Read more at Ynet

More about: Iran nuclear program, Israeli Security, Joseph Biden, U.S. Foreign policy