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
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
“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
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
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.
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.
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