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Eichler condemns Lapid's Tal Law alternative
By JEREMY SHARON
03/05/2012
UTJ chair accuses Lapid of exploiting the haredi community for electoral purposes in the manner of his father.
 
The fiery chairman of United Torah Judaism, Yisrael Eichler, led the charge against Yair Lapid’s proposals for increasing the numbers of ultra-Orthodox men enlisting in the IDF, in a series of radio interviews on Wednesday morning.

On Tuesday afternoon, Lapid presented his alternative to the “Tal Law” at the first conference of his new Yesh Atid party. According to his proposal, anyone who does not perform IDF or civilian service will not receive government stipends, and the IDF would take first pick on whom to draft with the remainder doing national service for two years.

The program would come into effect after a five-year intermediary period during which time haredi men would be exempt from army service but would be able to participate legally in the work force.

On Wednesday morning, Eichler did the rounds on several radio shows, criticizing Lapid’s plan and accusing him of exploiting the haredi community for electoral purposes in the manner of his father, Tommy Lapid, and other notable former Israeli politicians.

“He’s much more shrewd than his father,” Eichler said on 103FM, “but for him to say I don’t hate haredim is like someone putting a kebab on the barbecue and saying I don’t hate lambs, or a duck hunter saying he doesn’t hate ducks or a fisherman saying he loves fish.

“The haredim are an amazing electoral treasure trove, because you can use them and so deceive a complete nation and say there’s no problems with the police, with education, illegal immigrants, the price of fuel, income, or housing.

Instead of dealing with these social issues raised by the summer protest movement [last year], he continued, the prime minister simply tried to divert attention by advancing elections and focusing everyone’s attention on the haredim.

Speaking with Israel Radio’s Reshet Bet, Eichler said that the best solution for ensuring the army continues to have the requisite manpower is to abolish the draft and convert the IDF into a professional army.

This, he said, would allow soldiers to earn competitive wages and serve for longer, and would also release half of the soldiers currently obligated to serve so that they could join the labor market.

Eichler was not the only one to come out against Lapid’s planned reforms.

One of the leaders of the anti-Tal Law protest movement, the Forum for Equality in the Share of the Military Burden, sharply criticized Lapid’s plan to postpone the introduction of mandatory service by five years.

“We will not in any shape or form agree to a situation in which people will try and make political capital on the backs of those who serve [in the army],” a spokeswoman for the group said.

“The outline presented by Yair Lapid is nothing more than an illusion, since the implications of extending [army] exemptions for [another] five years means that the rights of other sectors of Israeli society upon whom the law of military service falls will still not be protected.”

The Forum also objected to the fact that Lapid’s plan does not deal with the issue of national service for Israeli Arabs.
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