Regev Responds

Economic and Civil sanctions are the answer!

Masquerade Ball: Don't comply with the Haredi parties' demands

The bill presented to the Ministerial Committee on Legislation is complex and full of words, but it can be boiled down to this: any yeshiva student who does not want to enlist will not be drafted into the IDF

IDF soldier wearing tefilin, source: WikipediaIDF soldier wearing tefilin, source: Wikipedia

Originally published in Hebrew *here*


The Haredi political parties' demand stands against a High Court of Justice ruling (handed down by an expanded panel of Justices), which, last September, rejected the previous amendments that the Knesset passed in submission to the ultra-Orthodox parties:

    "The new draft amendment severely violates equality in a way that creates a violation of the constitutional right to human dignity... a deep failure in the ability of the new conscription arrangement to realize its central purpose - a significant reduction in the inequality in the distribution of the burden of military service. The arrangement may promise functional quiet in the near term, but it cannot bring hope for a fundamental change in the situation... the continuing and deep violation of equality, the futility of the new conscription arrangement will contribute to reducing it to the required extent, the repetition of past mistakes as well as the lessons and insights that have accumulated in the course of the many years of this subject, do not allow us to avoid cancelling the agreement."

Attempts are being made to come up with a formula to square the circle so that all can consent to it. The Attorney General is supposed to reflect the principles underlying the High Court ruling on the matter, the ultra-Orthodox politicians represent the will of their rabbis, and the Minister of Defense places security needs as a supreme consideration. The formula has not yet been found, and in our opinion, it is highly doubtful that this is possible.

We at Hiddush also recognize the importance of Torah study, but the way to express this is not the mass exemption of tens of thousands of yeshiva students. We propose that a generous quota of exemptions be set, determined by objective and anonymous examinations. Worthy students will be exempted from service and provided generous subsistence grants. As for the rest - the IDF will have the first right to recruit those who fit its needs, and the rest will be charged with national / civil service.

We propose that a generous quota of exemptions be set, determined by objective and anonymous examinations. Worthy students will be exempted from service and provided generous subsistence grants.

In our opinion, there is no point in trying to apply criminal sanctions to ultra-Orthodox draft dodgers because they can not be implemented in practice (the Immanuel school affair offers only a limited hint of this). The sanctions we believe are necessary are economic sanctions (such as the denial of scholarships and subsidies from the state and local authorities, as well as the denial of monies for yeshivas that shelter draft dodgers) and civil sanctions (such as revoking driver's licenses, passports, etc.). These are just and effective sanctions, which do not require the cooperation of draft dodgers. They will save (if the refusal to respect the principle of equality of burden continues) huge amounts of taxpayers' money in a reality where public needs are growing and there are not enough resources to finance them.

The demands of the ultra-Orthodox parties go against not only the principle of equality, which is at the soul of democracy, but also against the will of the large majority of the Jewish public in Israel, including the voters for the coalition parties. A survey commissioned by Hiddush, conducted by the Smith Institute several few days ago, indicates the extent of the public's opposition, and the extent to which the principles underlying the Supreme Court's ruling reflect the will of the public! Among the adult Jewish public, 79% opposed the demand of the ultra-Orthodox parties, and only 21% supported it. In examining the distribution of responses by votes in the last Knesset elections, 81% of Likud voters expressed their opposition, as did 91% of Kulanu voters, 94% of Yisrael Beiteinu voters, and 88% of Jewish home voters!

The Peace Index (Which operates within the framework of Tel Aviv University and the Israel Democracy Institute) recently examined the public's attitude regarding the arrogant claim of the Haredi leadership, by which they justify their demand for draft dodging laws: "The Torah study of young Haredim protects Israel no less than non-ultra-Orthodox youth serving in the IDF." 70% of the adult Jewish public rejected this claim. Only 4% of the secular, and 8% of the traditional-"not so religious" agreed!

Capitulation to the demand to enact draft dodging laws is inappropriate, not constitutional, and goes against the needs of the state and the will of the public. It is time for our representatives [from the coalition and the opposition] to tell the ultra-Orthodox parties: enough is enough!

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