Open sore of ultra-Orthodox enlistment not improving - analysis
The law defined as ultra-Orthodox any man who from between the ages of 14 and 18 studied for at least two years in an ultra-Orthodox educational institution.
By JEREMY SHARON
Although the scandal revealed on Wednesday of apparently inflated numbers of haredim conscripted into the IDF was not as dramatic as initially thought, it nevertheless underlines an important point: the problem is not being resolved.Among the various statistical claims was a fact that had been concealed for a long time – namely, that the definition of who qualifies as haredi in the 2014 law for ultra-Orthodox conscription was far too broad.The law defined as ultra-Orthodox any man who from between the ages of 14 and 18 studied for at least two years in an ultra-Orthodox educational institution.This definition, which the ultra-Orthodox parties promoted, meant that an ultra-Orthodox boy who left the community or who was on the margins of the community in the first place would still be included in the IDF figures for ultra-Orthodox conscription.When the IDF conducted a review of its process for counting ultra-Orthodox recruits, it found that this definition was too broad, since upon examination many of those counted as ultra-Orthodox were not actually leading an ultra-Orthodox lifestyle and were not in the specifically ultra-Orthodox IDF units.Until now, it was believed that steady, if unspectacular, progress was being made on increasing ultra-Orthodox participation rates in military service, with estimates that some 35% of ultra-Orthodox men perform some form of service.Now even those achievements are apparently incorrect, and it seems that even less progress than was thought has been made on creating greater societal equality between the secular and religious-Zionist sectors who do serve, and the ultra-Orthodox sector that largely does not.When one bears in mind the current political fight over ultra-Orthodox conscription, the picture becomes even more concerning.The modest conscription targets presented in the draft law backed by Yisrael Beytenu leader Avigdor Liberman were supposed to increase ultra-Orthodox recruits by 8% per year for the first three years, 6.5% for the next three years, and 5% for the following four years.But the rate of growth of the haredi population is itself 4.4%, so the targets would be hard pressed to reach acceptable levels of conscription.When bearing in mind that the targets of the previous law have been missed by an even greater margin than previously thought, as the revelations on Wednesday apparently showed, the idea that, in the near or even medium-term future, there will be greater equality in the share of the military burden seems even more fanciful.Ever since the High Court of Justice first ruled that blanket exemptions from military service for ultra-Orthodox yeshiva students are illegal, the country has sought to find some way to rectify this problem.Two decades later, it appears that too little has been achieved to remedy this open wound of inequality in Israeli society.
Related TagsEnlistment law
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