Photo Credit: Moshe Feiglin

Editor’s note: The following is an English translation of an interview with Moshe Feiglin on Radio Tel Aviv.

Now that the Knesset is set to vote on the Draft Law, we can ask: What is better? A people’s army that includes everyone? Or a professional army?

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I don’t think the two contradict each other. Today’s Air Force is a professional army. So is the Navy.

Okay, let’s sweep aside all the bluffs. It is not the people’s army because not everyone enlists.

You are right. Only about 50 percent of those eligible actually enlist. And do you know what percentage of the public actually does reserve duty? Less than 5 percent.

So we are discovering that what they always told us about the people’s army and the melting pot may have been true in the first decades after Israel was established, but it does not reflect reality anymore.

We must also add – because we are an economy program – that this has tremendous economic implications.

Of course! Who is financing the military magician and the huge groups of non-combat soldiers hanging out on the grass at the main Kiryah base in Tel Aviv? It is the young couples, who continue to work the longest hours of any western country to earn the least and to pay the most.

Israel has money. But we continue to pay a huge fortune for all kinds of pipe dreams that are no longer relevant. The IDF has a huge surplus of manpower, and all the committees set up to explore the issue have reached that conclusion.

We can call it latent unemployment. But it is clearly visible at the Kiryah base in Tel Aviv.

By law the IDF must draft everyone who has reached the age of 18 – so it drafts them. Add to that politicians like Lapid, who have cashed in politically on the draft. He got 19 mandates for calling to add the charedim to the soldiers hanging out on the grass in the Kiryah.

If we adopt the professional army model, how will we know if we will have enough soldiers? Maybe nobody will want to enlist? We have seen that in the U.S., for example, people enlisted only because it is an employment option. Israel lives with serious security issues. What will we do?

Today, there are five competitors for every opening in the Golani Brigade. Now let’s talk about how this would look according to the Zehut model. First of all, everybody enlists and does a very basic training in under a month. They are then discharged. This includes all sectors.

Then, the IDF decides whom it needs and wants from among those who volunteer to continue in the army. The IDF gives the volunteer four things: First, a respectable salary, and not the laughable salary that soldiers currently receive.

What is a respectable salary?

Like the salary that a pilot receives today. About 7,000-8,000 shekels per month. We are talking about a respectable salary. About serious training with the best equipment. Remember, you have discharged the mass of soldiers and have more money for the professionals. The soldier will also get a free higher education and, perhaps most important of all, social status.

When you combine all the above and when you remember that the security ethos is still our founding ethos, you can confidently assume that there will be many volunteers for this high-quality army. The army will perform better. It will not be encumbered by all sorts of extraneous choirs and performers and will not be vulnerable to all sorts of agendas with which people seek to burden it. It will not be part of the social debate.

From a financial perspective, it will take a load off of our taxes, which will not be going to all sorts of dubious expenses in the army.

It is not only the direct expense of the soldiers, but the loss of all of these young people in the work force for three years.

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Moshe Feiglin is the former Deputy Speaker of the Knesset. He heads the Zehut Party. 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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