Camp Sucker (“Frier”) came to the capital on Sunday, as several dozen of the
movement’s hard-core activists drove from the Tel Aviv headquarters outside
Savidor (Arlozorov) Train Station to protest outside the Prime Minister’s Office
for the abolition of the “Tal Law.”
The law, approved in 2002, was
designed to increase the number of ultra-Orthodox men serving in the army, but
has been criticized for failing to bring the rate of haredi recruitment up
toward the national average.
“We’re the people who pay taxes, we’re going
to the army and we’re not being listened to,” said Anat Rechess, a spokesman for
the Mitpakdim social reform organization.
“We want everyone to have equal
rights; everyone should work, everyone should contribute. If you want to
get you have to give too,” said Rechess.
It’s not logical that the people
who don’t work, who don’t go to the army, get the most support from the
government, not us, she continued.
The Camp Sucker movement, led
primarily by the Forum for Military Service Equality (Forum La’shivyon
Ba’netel), opposes any extension of the Tal Law, which will expire in August if
the Knesset fails to extend it.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has
advocated the extension of the law, although opposition from coalition partners
Israel Beiteinu and Independence has caused the prime minister to bypass the
cabinet and seek approval directly from the Knesset. An extension to the Tal Law
would enjoy the support of coalition parties Shas and United Torah
The Independence Party, led by Defense Minister Ehud Barak,
advocates the extension of the law by one year during which new legislation can
be drawn up.
On Saturday night, Barak called on the government and the
Knesset to draft legislation according to an Independence proposal, which would
subsidize a university degree for those who complete full military service.
Barak also proposed to cap the number of full-time yeshiva students funded by
the state at 2,000 to 3,000 outstanding scholars, with the remainder integrating
into some form of military or national service, and subsequently into the
The Forum for Military Service Equality, Mitpakdim and others
campaigning against an extension seek the Tal Law’s complete and immediate
Rechess acknowledged that this will be hard to achieve but
said that the “fight has to begin today because the status quo can’t
Proponents of extending the Tal Law argue that significant
gains in haredi recruitment to the IDF and national and civilian service have
been made since implementation of the law began, and that forcibly drafting all
ultra-Orthodox 18- year-old men would cause societal tensions to boil
According to IDF figures, out of 8,500 potential ultra-Orthodox
recruits in 2011, 1,282 enlisted in the IDF and 1,079 enlisted in the national
or civilian service options. In 2009, 729 ultra-Orthodox men enlisted in the IDF
and 898 in 2010.
The army predicts that these numbers will continue to
While Camp Sucker lay deserted on Sunday, elsewhere in Tel Aviv and
beyond, high-school seniors took part in a strike to protest against the Tal
From 9 to 10:30 a.m., participating students walked out of class and
held discussions in corridors, school libraries and elsewhere on
The initiative was launched on Facebook and came less than a
week after a group of high-school students sent a letter to the prime minister
with more than 4,000 signatures against the Tal law.
On the Facebook
page, organizers say the Tal law “is a bad, exploitative and non- Zionist
The students add, “We are the future of the country and because of
this we will not agree to be discriminated against. We will not give up on
The page calls for mandatory military or national service for
all sectors in Israel.
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