'Camp Sucker' on day trip to Jerusalem

Activists opposing extension of Tal Law, move protest from Tel Aviv train station to Prime Minister's Office.

Tal Law Protest 311 (photo credit: YouTube Screenshot)
Tal Law Protest 311
(photo credit: YouTube Screenshot)
Camp Sucker (“Frier”) came to the capital on Sunday, as several dozen of the movement’s hard-core activists drove from the Tel Aviv headquarters outside Savidor (Arlozorov) Train Station to protest outside the Prime Minister’s Office for the abolition of the “Tal Law.”
The law, approved in 2002, was designed to increase the number of ultra-Orthodox men serving in the army, but has been criticized for failing to bring the rate of haredi recruitment up toward the national average.
“We’re the people who pay taxes, we’re going to the army and we’re not being listened to,” said Anat Rechess, a spokesman for the Mitpakdim social reform organization.
“We want everyone to have equal rights; everyone should work, everyone should contribute. If you want to get you have to give too,” said Rechess.
It’s not logical that the people who don’t work, who don’t go to the army, get the most support from the government, not us, she continued.
The Camp Sucker movement, led primarily by the Forum for Military Service Equality (Forum La’shivyon Ba’netel), opposes any extension of the Tal Law, which will expire in August if the Knesset fails to extend it.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu has advocated the extension of the law, although opposition from coalition partners Israel Beiteinu and Independence has caused the prime minister to bypass the cabinet and seek approval directly from the Knesset. An extension to the Tal Law would enjoy the support of coalition parties Shas and United Torah Judaism.
The Independence Party, led by Defense Minister Ehud Barak, advocates the extension of the law by one year during which new legislation can be drawn up.
On Saturday night, Barak called on the government and the Knesset to draft legislation according to an Independence proposal, which would subsidize a university degree for those who complete full military service. Barak also proposed to cap the number of full-time yeshiva students funded by the state at 2,000 to 3,000 outstanding scholars, with the remainder integrating into some form of military or national service, and subsequently into the workforce.
The Forum for Military Service Equality, Mitpakdim and others campaigning against an extension seek the Tal Law’s complete and immediate cancelation.
Rechess acknowledged that this will be hard to achieve but said that the “fight has to begin today because the status quo can’t continue.”
Proponents of extending the Tal Law argue that significant gains in haredi recruitment to the IDF and national and civilian service have been made since implementation of the law began, and that forcibly drafting all ultra-Orthodox 18- year-old men would cause societal tensions to boil over.
According to IDF figures, out of 8,500 potential ultra-Orthodox recruits in 2011, 1,282 enlisted in the IDF and 1,079 enlisted in the national or civilian service options. In 2009, 729 ultra-Orthodox men enlisted in the IDF and 898 in 2010.
The army predicts that these numbers will continue to grow.
While Camp Sucker lay deserted on Sunday, elsewhere in Tel Aviv and beyond, high-school seniors took part in a strike to protest against the Tal law.
From 9 to 10:30 a.m., participating students walked out of class and held discussions in corridors, school libraries and elsewhere on campuses.
The initiative was launched on Facebook and came less than a week after a group of high-school students sent a letter to the prime minister with more than 4,000 signatures against the Tal law.
On the Facebook page, organizers say the Tal law “is a bad, exploitative and non- Zionist law.”
The students add, “We are the future of the country and because of this we will not agree to be discriminated against. We will not give up on equality.”
The page calls for mandatory military or national service for all sectors in Israel.