Haredi politicians and campaigners for ultra- Orthodox enlistment draft reform
heavily criticized Strategic Affairs Minister Moshe Ya’alon’s outline for
drafting haredi men into the army, which he presented on
Ya’alon’s plan seeks to raise the number of haredim enlisting in
the IDF or doing national service from the current 2,400 to 6,000 by 2016, and
lower the age of exemption from 28 to 26. The goal for Arab civilian service in
2016 is 5,000, more than double the current amount – 2,400.
to the proposals made public on Sunday, Idan Miller, a leading activist for
military draft reform, called the proposal “surrender” to the haredi coalition
parties, and threatened that Defense Minister Ehud Barak will face “an intifada
of High Court petitions” if he does not draft haredi men on August 1 when the
“Tal Law” expires.
The Tal Law has, since 2002, provided the legal
framework for full-time yeshiva students to indefinitely postpone military
service. When it expires, the 1949 Law for Security Service – which mandates
compulsory military service for all citizens reaching the age of 18 – will go
“In another nine days, when the Tal Law will depart from
the defense minister will be obligated to draft every
Jewish citizen who reaches age of 18,” Miller said. “If he doesn’t act in
accordance with the law, then he’ll have to deal with an intifada of High Court
petitions that will force the government to do what is morally and ethically
Although Shas has not responded to Ya’alon’s proposal, a
source within the party told The Jerusalem Post last week that the party was
concerned about such a situation, and considers the potential legal vacuum a
Last week, Barak said that in light of the failure to
replace the Tal Law, the draft would be widened in August to include haredi men
“on the basis of preparatory work done by the IDF over the past year to prepare
for increased haredi enlistment,” which was requested by the
The Council for Military Service Equality, a leading campaign
group, said on Monday that the Camp Sucker movement as a whole would be
relocating its encampment to the offices of the Defense Ministry on
They will demand that all 17-year-old haredi boys be sent
their draft orders, as will be required by law on August 1, and that all yeshiva
students who have until now been exempt from national service under the
provisions of the Tal Law be drafted within a year.
The group called
Ya’alon’s proposal “worse than the Tal Law,” and said that it was “a disgrace to
see a former IDF chief of staff sell out those who serve for the sake of an
inexplicable swindle with the haredi parties.”
Meanwhile, senior haredi
MK Moshe Gafni of United Torah Judaism expressed opposition to all legislation
that would change the status of yeshiva students in any way.
study Torah are the guardians of the Jewish people and the ones who maintain the
existence of the world,” he told haredi daily Yated Ne’eman on Monday. “Any
attempt to entice those who study Torah to stop learning will encounter a wall
of opposition from haredi Jewry.”
Former head of the IDF Manpower
Directorate Maj.-Gen. (res.) Elazar Stern called Ya’alon’s draft “a joke,”
specifically referring to the proposal that haredi men be allowed to postpone
service till age 26.
He said that by this age the overwhelming majority
of ultra-Orthodox men are married with children, which would create a huge
financial burden for the IDF if it were to draft them – due to subsidies the
army provides by law to recruits with families.
Stern added that such
recruits would not be able to participate fully in the IDF due to family
Hiddush, a lobbying group for religious freedom, said that
Ya’alon’s proposal reflected Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu’s decision to
choose his “anti-Zionist haredi partners over the majority of the Israeli
“The Ya’alon proposal is simply Tal Law 2.0, that is, a program
which will see a continuation of draft dodging and
History will not forget the coalition partners who
betrayed those who bear the burden of military service and, hopefully, neither
will the electorate,” said Hiddush director Uri Regev.
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