Many of those calling for Israeli Arabs to do national service have political,
not topical motivations, Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin said on
Rivlin pointed out that the “Tal Law,” which allowed yeshiva
students to indefinitely postpone IDF service, did not include Israeli
Though the Knesset speaker told Israel Radio he thinks Arabs
should be included in the new service bill, he explained that “this is not just
about the political need to say if they’re doing something for one minority
we’ll do the other.”
“These groups are different at their core,” Rivlin
said, referring to haredim and Israeli Arabs.
Regarding haredim, he said
thousands of them cannot “squeeze into yeshiva to dodge the draft.”
need to respect everyone and their desires, but we should not have a
comprehensive exemption” for all yeshiva students, he stated.
At the same
time, the Knesset speaker said the state should support those with potential to
be their generation’s greatest Torah scholars.
Although some in the
ultra- Orthodox world think 18 is too young, there are tools to determine who
are the brightest yeshiva students at that age, and everyone else should enlist
in the IDF or do national service, Rivlin added.
“We need to make sure
the state is Jewish and democratic, and ensure the depth of Torah in Israel,” he
stated, “but not allow people to shirk their service.”
In reference to
the proper age of service, Rivlin said he thinks 18 is appropriate, but if
someone is in yeshiva and then he or his teachers realize he will not end up a
great rabbi, he should enlist at age 20 or 21.
The Knesset speaker also
spoke out against personal sanctions against those who do not enlist, saying
that “sanctions are for when you want to start a war.”
“We don’t want a
war with our brothers,” he explained.
Rivlin called for Prime Minister
Binyamin Netanyahu to “prefer the good of the people and not tear apart the
nation,” by saying all citizens should share the burden of service
The speaker also defended Kadima leader Shaul Mofaz’s motives,
saying that, in his opinion, Mofaz “is being real about the issue of national
service,” but also wants to “hold the coalition together and succeed
politically.” At the same time, Rivlin said that in the past, politicians sought
power in order to promote their ideologies, whereas today, Zionism and other
ideologies are “a ladder to personal success.”
“It’s a problem,” he
added, saying he is not specifically referring to Mofaz. “We need to know why we
want to be public servants.”