'State can't determine who is a draft dodger'

PMO's legal adviser says preventing draft-dodgers from performing 'legally impossible.'

September 3, 2007 09:59
1 minute read.
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It is legally impossible to prevent the performances of artists in state celebrations on the grounds they avoided doing their army service, the legal adviser for the Prime Minister's Office ruled on Monday. The ministerial committee for planning Israel's 60th Independence Day celebrations discussed the matter on Monday during a meeting in which the official logo for the event, featuring the words 'Israel - Today and Beyond,' a Magen David and the number 60 - was unveiled. Since the IDF's Human Resources Branch reported in July that 25 percent of young Israelis do not enlist in the army, there have been heated debates on the values of army and national service and on how to deal with draft dodging. However, the PMO's legal adviser appeared to throw a monkey wrench into any ideas of barring such individuals from performing in the upcoming festivities. "It is impossible to compile a list of draft dodgers according to the law's definitions," said the adviser. "The definition states that a draft dodger is a person who publicly announces his refusal to serve in the IDF, or a person who chooses to illegally exempt himself from service. The only way for the state to determine who is truly a draft dodger is through a judicial decision." The adviser also emphasized that the compilation of such a list would also constitute a violation of the right of equality. "In order to bypass this, special legislation on the definition of draft dodgers must be passed by the Knesset," he said. "We must differentiate between the IDF's stance on the subject and the state's. What the IDF decides regarding draft dodger artists is understandable, but for legal reasons, the state cannot do the same." Chief IDF Education Officer Brig.-Gen. Eli Shermayser said during the meeting that the IDF's policy regarding the definition of draft dodgers will soon be formulated and handed over to the committee. Shermayser also added that according to the IDF's policy, soldiers will not attend celebrations in which draft dodgers are performing. "I believe that draft dodgers should not be allowed to perform," he said. Ruhama Avraham-Balili, chairman of the anniversary planning committee, said during the discussion that she considered IDF service imperative. Nonetheless, she clarified that the committee would only announce its decision once the IDF's official point of view on the highly controversial matter was compiled.

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