Latest update: February 18th, 2013
My proposal regarding the contentious issue of Israel’s universal draft represents a unique approach that cannot only solve the problem but will also provide leverage to strengthen the IDF and Israeli society.
To begin, I object to the premise that army service is a unifying factor, i.e. the melting pot, of Israeli society. Today, a large part of Israeli society – not necessarily the Haredi – finds a way to evade mandatory service. Also, only a small percentage of the entire society serves in the reserves.
Mandatory military service is one of the factors dividing and fragmenting Israeli society. The discussion being conducted now is one of the proofs of that. Additionally, the obligation to draft everyone is actually a burden on the army and economy, as it cultivates hidden unemployment and lack of professionalism.
Proposal’s Main Points
● Create a process that will transform the army into a professional, volunteer force. ● On the other side of the coin, we must exchange our exclusive reliance on the army as an apparently unifying factor in Israeli society with a true investment in the strengthening of our shared national and cultural identity. This entails authentic dialogue between all the main sectors in Israeli society.
Army Service Proposal
● The Mandatory Draft Law will remain on the books, but the IDF will draft only those it is interested in drafting, according to the tracks to be specified below. ● Most of the recruits will serve in a shortened training track (not more than two months) that will prepare them for various roles in times of emergency – and will then be discharged.
● Recruits who volunteer for military units will be drafted for at least three years. They will receive minimum wage during their training and standing army wages during their military service.
● Recruits who volunteer for special units will be drafted for a longer term (5-6 years), in accordance with the training invested in them. They will also receive minimum wage during training and standing army wages during their military service.
● The National Service and Civil Service frameworks will continue to play their roles in society, in accordance with the civil needs.
● Reserve units will receive high pay and high national classification as detailed in the following point.
● A classification on a point system will be set in place. Points will be allotted relative to reserve time served. These points will afford the reservists preference for anything that society honors (academia, housing, employment, etc.) in order to encourage those who give of themselves for the good of the whole.
● This proposal does not require a change in legislation but rather a change in perspective. The army must be allowed to draft those individuals who it can professionally train and from whom it will truly benefit. Those not needed by the army could give to society in National Service or Civil Service, as well as in their preparedness for active duty during emergencies. Those not wishing to do their part in any way will remain at “the end of the line” in any domain in which society encourages those who give to it.
● This proposal will make the army more effective while freeing those currently forced to perform mandatory conscription (be it in the army or in yeshiva) to enter the work market. Instead of funding unemployed soldiers and yeshiva students who do not want to enlist, a wave of young workers will enter the workforce and create a more just distribution of the economic burden on the shoulders of Israel’s citizens.
MILITARY SERVICE is a privilege – not a burden. Mandatory conscription is not really needed. It weakens our security and economy, creates unnecessary conflicts and fragments society.
I call upon Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his cabinet to adopt this new, fresh approach on the draft issue. I call on them to channel their efforts to truly unite Israeli society – by investing in our national identity and its meaning.
About the Author: Moshe Feiglin is the former Deputy Speaker of the Knesset. He is the founder of Manhigut Yehudit and Zo Artzeinu and the author of two books: "Where There Are No Men" and "War of Dreams." Feiglin served in the IDF as an officer in Combat Engineering and is a veteran of the Lebanon War. He lives in Ginot Shomron with his family.
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