June 4: Culture of Service
A simple solution is to abolish the draft and make army service or some other form of national service optional, but to combine it with a substantial financial incentive.
Letters Photo: Thinkstock/Imagebank
Culture of service
Sir, – Regarding “Keshev Committee hears proposals for
increasing haredi enlistment rates” (June 1), the problem is not limited to the
There is the country’s Arab sector, comprising some 20
percent of the population and of which only a small fraction
There is also the significant number of secular Jews who find
methods to avoid army service.
In fact, the army doesn’t need all this
manpower. It certainly does not want reluctant recruits or, even worse, those
who have been led to believe that the Jewish state is their sworn
A simple solution is to abolish the draft and make army service or
some other form of national service optional, but to combine it with a
substantial financial incentive. Non-military service could range from work in
hospitals to assisting teachers or cleaning up our forests, parks and beaches.
The list of possibilities is endless.
Accept as the norm for service
three years for men and two for women, then calculate subsequent social benefits
to a family on the basis of time served. If the parents have accumulated five
years of service they would get full allowances. Those with less would have
their allowances reduced.
Obviously it would be unfair to establish this
retroactively, so it would apply only to those marrying after the new
arrangements were in place.
STEPHEN S. COHEN
Sir, – Adi
Luria, spokeswoman for the National Civil Service Volunteers Association,
opposes mandatory national service (“NGO: Don’t force people to do national
service,” June 1). Sadly, she has a very parochial view.
Those who would
be required to serve would benefit by being more fully integrated into society,
thereby recognizing that they have a very real stake in the nation’s future.
Also, the stature of the ultra-Orthodox and Arab sectors would be raised in the
eyes of the large number of Israelis who feel they do not contribute their fair
share. Indeed, it may turn out that fewer people will attempt to shirk their own
military duty if they see that, finally, all sectors are being asked to make
EFRAIM A. COHEN
Sir, – What Jay
Bushinsky suggests in “Military service for all” (Observations, June 1) is both
unworkable and unwise.
Does Bushinsky really believe that an Arab soldier
from Umm el-Fahm would carry out an order to kill or capture a terrorist in
Jenin, or that a haredi soldier would carry out an order issued by his
commanding officer without first checking whether it was in compliance with
Halacha? What would be workable and wise, and has worked in America, is a change
from a “welfare” system to a “workfare” system whereby the number of financially
dependent has been dramatically reduced over the past 20 years. The system
requires able-bodied individuals to provide service in order to receive
benefits. Many “graduate” to regular-paying jobs.
In Israel, those who
are dependent upon the government for benefits should be required to provide
national service. In addition, the tens of thousands of secular Jews who avoid
military service (about whom we rarely hear), as well as the haredim, could be
given added incentives (educational and housing benefits, as well as priority in
hiring) in return. This would be similar to the GI Bill in America.
Sir, – In your editorial “Glorifying terror”
(June 1) you ask why the PA celebrates and glorifies terrorists. Why not ask why
we continue to release terrorists or their remains so that they can be so
glorified? Do we really hold out hope that something fundamental has changed in
Palestinian society? The real issue is why we continue to take actions when all
the evidence suggests that we do so only to our detriment.
More on migrants
Sir, – I understand many Israelis are very angry at the
African refugees because you are receiving hundreds of migrants across the
border every day and don’t know where these people are coming from.
true that this is a very complex situation. But I want you to understand that I
came from a very bad situation in Darfur and the condition of the Darfurians is
getting worse and worse.
If you decide you don’t want Darfurian refugees
to stay here in Israel, there is no other place for us to go. If you send us
back the Sudanese will kill us.
They kill children who are just three
months old and rape and kill our sisters.
When I was 12 I watched my
father die in front of me after the Janjaweed shot him. After that, I had no
idea where to go.
Fortunately I was able to cross the Egyptian border –
where Egyptian soldiers shot me twice – and make it into Israel. I was lucky
that the Israelis saved me and even sent me to a high school in Rishon Lezion. I
will never forget what the Israeli people have done for me.
Right now I
don’t have any communication with my family.
I don’t even know if they
are alive or dead. The village that I grew up in is destroyed; nobody lives
there now. I don’t know where my family is. The last time I spoke with my mother
was in 2008.
I want to work hard in a safe palace to finish my education
so I can help myself and my family and other Darfurians who are in the same
My dream is to be a journalist so that I can tell our story to
Please help us solve our problems and give us refugee
We are not asking for economic benefits. We are only asking for
the opportunity to develop ourselves and strengthen Darfur and
The writer is an asylum-seeker
With astonishment I have read the recent articles on African migrants in south
Tel Aviv and would like the demonstrators who call for mass deportations to ask
themselves if they would like to take over the migrants’ jobs.
raising your voices and smashing shop windows, why don’t you take up a brush and
clean chairs for tourists on Tel Aviv beaches? Or get a plastic bag and collect
empty beer bottles from the street? Let’s face it: Many in Tel Aviv are pleased
with the cheap labor the Africans provide, and silently condone their
I am convinced we can all do with a wee bit more common sense
Have any of you ever spoken to an African migrant, asked
about his background, his reasons for coming to Israel? Before judging another
person, ask yourself how you would like to be judged. Then open your Torah and
look for the chapter that clearly indicates that God is the sole Judge of
I would like to thank these African migrants for pointing this
Sir, – My attention has been
drawn to an article in your paper titled “When Israel had a champion at the UN”
(Comment & Features, May 30).
My late colleague and muchlamented
friend Jeane Kirkpatrick certainly deserves our highest gratitude, praise and
Unfortunately, though, virtually all the references to my
person contained in the article were simply inaccurate (if not
For example, and to my profound regret, I do not speak nine
Peter Collier’s references to me are apparently based on
secondhand and unchecked information (at best) and constitute a forceful
validation of the Rashomon effect.
YEHUDA Z. BLUM
The writer is
a former ambassador to the UN