IDF cartoon 298.88.
(photo credit: )
Two hundred Jewish and Druse draftees gathered in Moshav Nordiya, near Netanya, on Tuesday to declare war against the growth in draft dodging they say threatens to divide society and to sap the IDF's might.
"It is a duty of responsible leadership to display public courage and firmness by ensuring that the numbers of those refusing to serve is minimized. This is crucial if the IDF is to remain an army of the entire nation," they said in a letter sent to Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and Defense Minister Ehud Barak.
Tzameret, the youth movement of the Zionist Council in Israel, was joined at Nordiya by other youth movements and by dozens of Druse draftees.
The youngsters vowed to continue to campaign against draft dodging, encourage their peers to enlist and strive to be admitted to elite units. They also said they would pressure policy-makers to make it more difficult for teenagers to shirk their national service obligations.
Moshe Benater, director-general for the Council for Zionism in Israel, applauded the initiative. "The number of youths not serving in the IDF continues to grow, and these highly motivated draftees recognize that at the present rate, their own contributions to the country may not be enough. They understand how critical a threat this draft-dodging phenomenon presents not just to the IDF, but to Israeli society as a whole," he said.
Benater said Tzameret's selfless actions showed the "other side of Israeli youth" and provided hope.
He especially praised the courage of Druse teens, saying 83 percent of their young men join the IDF, the highest proportion of eligible youth of any sector.