July 10: Readers comment on fallout from Tal Law

'It is essential that whatever law is drafted to replace the Tal Law it should apply to everyone.'

July 9, 2012 22:28

Letters 521. (photo credit: Thinkstock/Imagebank)

Sir, – It is essential that whatever law is drafted to replace the Tal Law it should apply to everyone.

If it is tilted to favor haredi sensibilities it will merely continue to stoke animosity against haredim. Furthermore, it will eventually be struck down by the Supreme Court.

Any application of punitive measures will fail. It is simply impossible to punish such a large and cohesive section of the population in this way. Of course, without some form of coercion, nothing will be achieved.

The solution is simple: Removing child allowances even on a partial basis would apply enough pressure to achieve a satisfactory result. It would be effective, easy to administer and would apply equally to all.

Some may prefer to postpone their service until they have completed their education; some might prefer to learn in a yeshiva.

That’s fine, but if they have children before serving, their child allowance would be reduced.

The army has already made it easier for haredim to serve by establishing units that accommodate their religious sensibilities.

But the army can do more. The recent incident in which soldiers were punished for refusing to attend a concert where women were singing was foolish.

Possibly as a sop, the new rules could be implemented on a reduced level initially, with full implementation after a few years. The advantage of this approach is its simplicity and effectiveness, and the fact that it would apply equally to Arabs, haredim and simple slackers.

Ma’aleh Adumim

Sir, – Rabbi Simcha Avraham Halevi (“Hassidic rabbi calls for equality in Torah study,” July 9) makes an innovative suggestion that should inspire the country’s education authorities. He suggests that in exchange for yeshiva students doing army or national service, all youth be given a Torah education.

This may appear far-fetched to the secular, but it is not. We live in the land of the Bible, which is our credo for settling this land, and it follows that all Jewish youth should have a deep understanding of what Judaism is all about. This can only be achieved by school education and inculcation through the curriculum established by the Education Ministry.

This may not lead to all our children becoming religious, but it should give them an excellent idea of what religion provides in rounding off their education and eliminating existing prejudice between the religious and nonreligious.


Sir, – Regardless of the various views as to the drafting of haredim and Arabs, the application of the term “draft-dodger” to those who do not serve is incorrect.

According to all dictionary definitions, draft-dodger refers to one who is by law subject to conscription and avoids this by any means. Haredim and Arabs are legally exempted from such service.


Sir, – The situation of the haredim in facing the Israeli public is almost a clone of Israel’s situation in facing the international community.

Any “bad” move by Israel is blown out of proportion, and negative items are a mainstay of the international media. Likewise, the media are full of antiharedi items and opinion pieces (the vast majority by irreligious journalists).

Journalists beware! The sideeffect of your ranting and raving against the haredim will inevitably cause acts of violence against them. This will be your fault because you can prevent it.

As the saying goes, life and death are in the tip of the pen.


Sir, – The rabbinic “sages” who dictate haredi policy are calling for the temporary cancellation of the “three-four week summer break between yeshiva semesters because of the threat to Torah study” posed by new legislation to draft haredi youth (“United Torah Judaism, Shas angered by Likud approval of Plesner recommendations,” July 9).

This annual summer vacation is in addition to three weeks off for Succot and another three weeks for Pessah, amounting to an annual 10 weeks off a year for these young men who basically do... nothing.

But what is really galling is the haredi claim, in the words of Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, that “We are surrounded by those who hate us, Iran, Hezbollah... the youth of Israel exist only in the merit of the Torah.” Based on such logic we should be cowering in our shelters during the 10 weeks when we are bereft of the vital protection haredi youth provide.


Sir, – Rabbi Ovadia Yosef wants yeshivot to cancel summer vacation so students can continue to learn Torah in response to the move to draft them.

Wait a second! Yeshivot give summers off? If no one is learning Torah, who’s protecting our tiny state? I know IDF soldiers go on leave every now and then, but the army doesn’t go on vacation for the summer! \

Beit Zayit

Sir, – One of the most interesting phenomena that have occurred as a result of the movement to make everyone serve the country is the emergence of a group from the Arab population that really wants to serve.

Perhaps many of them have realized that their leadership has betrayed them and serves foreign interests, and is not interested at all in becoming integrated into the economic life of Israel or creating a federation that would make real growth possible.

If more of the Arab sector serves in the army or does real community service, these citizens will become the new leaders for their ethnic group. They will tell the old leadership to go and will create the population that will truly live together, work together and respect each other.


Sir, – Proponents of a revision to the Tal Law argue that the responsibility for the nation’s defense through mandatory service in the military must be shared equally by all citizens, including the ultra-Orthodox.

How I wish these reformers really meant what they say! The one population they always exclude from their “all must serve” mantra is Israelis with disabilities.

The IDF exempts people with disabilities from mandatory service.

By absolving the disabled of the obligation to share in the country’s defense, it reinforces their marginalization, as well as the notion that people with disabilities are helpless, non-contributing burdens on society.

Not long ago, Education Minister Gideon Sa’ar demonstrated how ingrained this condescending view is in the government when he said in reference to people with disabilities: “Society is judged according to the way it treats its weakest links.” I reject Sa’ar’s characterization and its dogmatic equation of disability with inability.

The IDF does offer people with disabilities the option of voluntary enlistment and assigns them to meaningful jobs – even sensitive jobs requiring the handling of classified information. However, voluntary enlistment is far from satisfactory. It is a patronizing alternative. If the IDF is prepared to assign people with disabilities to substantive roles as volunteers, why not make their service mandatory? Given the dangers facing Israel, military service and the sacrifice it demands should not be a matter of personal preference for anyone.

The government and the Knesset must begin to treat people with disabilities as human resources with the potential to contribute their fair share to the national security. Compulsory military service will greatly reduce the stigma attached to disability and, by raising employer expectations of the abilities of the disabled, will enhance their future opportunities in the labor market and speed their integration into society.

Tel Aviv

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