Exempting Ultra-Orthodox Israelis from Army Service Might Be the Best Way to Get Them to Enlist https://mosaicmagazine.com/picks/israel-zionism/2019/08/exempting-ultra-orthodox-israelis-from-army-service-might-be-the-best-way-to-get-them-to-enlist/

August 9, 2019 | Amiḥai Attali

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 on Ynet: https://www.ynetnews.com/articles/0,7340,L-5564682,00.html