soldiers haredi 311.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
The Supreme Court strenuously questioned the statistics which the state
presented on Sunday to try to prove that it had made great strides in
implementing the Tal Law since a previous hearing in June 2007.
has been a significant change in the number of people who have enlisted in the
army or volunteered for public service,” the state’s representative, Osnat
Mandel, head of the High Court Section of the State Attorney’s Office, told the
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During the previous hearing, the court had warned the state that
if the Tal Law did not bring about a significant change in the number of haredim
who joined one or the other of the frameworks offered them by the Tal Law, the
law could be considered unconstitutional because it would fail to meet the
According to that test, the benefits achieved by
the law must outweigh the harm caused to the principal of equality embedded in
the Basic Law: Human Dignity and Freedom.
The state asked the court to
accept two criteria for accepting the proportionality test. The first was the
increased number of haredim who joined the army or volunteered for public
service. The second was the organizational and financial measures taken by the
government to enable increasing numbers of haredim to join these frameworks in
Mandel offered the court a statistical measurement to prove
that the situation had improved dramatically over the past few years. She told
the court that the state had taken the number of haredim who became eligible for
the draft each year, and divided it by the number of haredim who joined the army
or public service in the same year.
According to this system, the ratio
of haredim who joined either one of the frameworks compared to the number of
haredim who became eligible for the draft increased from 7 percent in 2007, to
17% in 2008, to 34% in 2009 to 37% in 2010.
“The figure is increasing
each year,” said Mandel. “We expect it to reach 65% in 2015.”
justices were unconvinced that the calculation used by the state was
“There is nothing in common between the numerator and
denominator,” Justice Esther Hayut told Mandel. Many of the justices
The reason for this was that the number of haredim who join the
army or public service in a given year could come from any cohort between the
ages of 18 and 30, and not necessarily from the 18-year-olds who were entering
draft age that year.
Nevertheless, Mandel insisted that the figures that
emerged from this arithmetic operation served as a reliable index to prove that
the situation was improving.
She also provided information to back her
contention that the second criteria, that of improving the procedures for
encouraging haredim to volunteer for one or the other of the two frameworks, had
also improved dramatically since the previous hearing on the petitions. The
government had also promised to substantially increase the budget allocations
for the two services.
Petitions against the Tal Law, a temporary law
which was renewed by the Knesset in July 2007, were filed by attorney Yehuda
Ressler, The Movement for Quality Government, former Shinui MK and minister
Avraham Poraz, and former Meretz MK Ran Cohen.
Ressler, a veteran lawyer
and retired IDF major, has been fighting for decades to impose almost universal
conscription of haredi men.
Off the cuff, he said he would not oppose
allowing 5,000 haredim to continue studying in yeshivot and receiving exemption
from military service.
Ressler told the court, “Whatever you do, make a
decision now. Do not postpone it for many months.”
The court will
apparently do so.