Public groups differ on how to treat those exempted from army

Two public organizations, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) and the Movement for Quality Government (MQG), responded on Monday in opposite ways to the campaign currently being waged against those who do not serve in the army or leave it on emotional grounds before the end of their service. In response to the campaign launched by the Council of Local Authorities against contracting performers or hiring employees who did not serve, ACRI wrote that such a policy violates the law. "It is illegal to discriminate in job opportunities against those who have not served in the army," ACRI legal adviser Dan Yakir wrote to Carmiel Mayor and Chairman of the Council of Local Authorities Adi Eldar, Ma'alot-Tarshiha Mayor Shlomo Buhbut, and Beersheba Deputy Mayor Rubik Danilovich. "It has already been a few years since the labor court ruled that restricting jobs to those who served in the army violates the Equal Work Opportunities Law." Yakir added that the increase in the number of men who have not been conscripted in the past few years was due to the increase in the haredi population and the fact that the IDF has not needed so many soldiers and, therefore, has made it easier to receive an exemption. There are many reasons for exemptions, including lack of suitability for service, medical problems, conscientious objection and, in the case of women, religious observance. Yakir added that it is wrong for an employer to try to determine whether a prospective employee was justified in not serving or was simply trying to avoid military service. Doing so would be an invasion of the privacy of the candidate, who would be forced to reveal intimate details of his life, he wrote. The law expressly forbids employers from demanding to know the medical profile of work applicants. Meanwhile, the Movement for Quality Government focused on a report appearing in the daily Yediot Aharonot that stated that 50 percent of those who are conscripted and then let out of the army for reasons of mental health lie about their mental condition. Many of those who are released early nevertheless receive the benefits awarded to soldiers at the end of their military service. According to the MQG, the army must improve its psychological testing system, which allegedly grants so many unjustified exemptions. Secondly, it must see to it that those who avoid military service unjustifiably do not receive the benefits granted to soldiers who serve their full term. The movement demanded that the army monitor those who leave the army for mental health reasons and receive military benefits to make sure they do not live a civilian life that belies the mental condition they claimed to suffer from.