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
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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

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