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Haredim Temporarily Off the Hook, Only 1,300 to Do National Service

Critics of the government are saying that the new decision was intended to improve Netanyahu's coalition negotiations with the Haredi parties.
Haredi men standing in line outside the IDF Recruitment Office in Jerusalem.

Haredi men standing in line outside the IDF Recruitment Office in Jerusalem.
Photo Credit: Flash90

On Sunday the Israeli cabinet approved a proposal submitted by Defense Minister Ehud Barak and the Minister in Charge of National Service Daniel Hershkowitz regulating the absorption of about 1,300 young Haredim in the civilian national service. The Supreme Court’s elimination of the Tal Law which used to regulate Haredi conscription also interrupted the absorption of new volunteers into the non-military service.

Earlier this year the court declared the Tal Law unconstitutional and required the state to come up with a better alternative. As such an alternative had not been proposed by August, when the old law expired, Haredi youths could face normal enlistment, like their non-Haredi peers. The new order preserves the old situation—criticized by the court—whereby only a miniscule number of Haredim are enlisted.

Critics of the government are saying that the new decision was intended to improve Netanyahu’s coalition negotiations with the Haredi parties, especially with Shas, after the January election.

“The operation of the civil service as a means of promoting the Haredi share in the national burden has been recognized by the Supreme Court as an appropriate option for enlistment, and the government recognizes the importance of the civilian service as one of the major means of increasing an equal sahre the burden,” says the draft resolution that was approved today.

This resolution offers automatic exemption from military service to around 1,300 young Haredim and regulates their national service, which is available to volunteers age 26 and older without children, or age 22 with one child or more. However, the proposal emphasizes that this is merely a temporary solution “until such time when the issue is resolved through legislation,” and it will expires in August, 2013.

The decision has already elicited passionate reactions across the political system. Tzipi Livni, Chairperson of the Movement headed by Tzipi Livni, said that “Netanyahu prefers his natural coalition partners over those who actually bear the burden. The government’s intention to circumvent the High Court and to continue perpetuating the historical injustice is outrageous, immoral, and does not withstand the high court test.”

According to Livni, “on the eve of the elections, the government chooses to spit in the face of the Zionist majority which serves in the army, enlists for reserve duty every time anew, and is no longer willing to ignore this prolonged failure.”

Livni pledged to “work to change the situation radically and enforce a condition in which the service requirement applies to all levels of society, including Haredim and Arabs. There is no social justice or equality without full equality in shouldering the burden.”

The prime minister’s office stressed that without today’s decision on national service thousands of Haredim who are eager to join the police, EMT, and firefighting services, could not do it because the Tal Law regulating civilian service recruitment expired last August.

The PM’s office also noted that the data show that 85% of Haredim who joined the civilian service were later integrated into the labor market. Three months ago there were 2,026 Haredim enrolled in civilian service, Netanyahu’s office added, but because the Tal law had not been extended, their number dropped to 1,450. Today’s decision will bring the number to more than 2,000.

About the Author: Yori Yanover has been a working journalist since age 17, before he enlisted and worked for Ba'Machane Nachal. Since then he has worked for Israel Shelanu, the US supplement of Yedioth, JCN18.com, USAJewish.com, Lubavitch News Service, Arutz 7 (as DJ on the high seas), and the Grand Street News. He has published Dancing and Crying, a colorful and intimate portrait of the last two years in the life of the late Lubavitch Rebbe, (in Hebrew), and two fun books in English: The Cabalist's Daughter: A Novel of Practical Messianic Redemption, and How Would God REALLY Vote.


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11 Responses to “Haredim Temporarily Off the Hook, Only 1,300 to Do National Service”

  1. Arthur B. Levy says:

    You live in haeretz YOU SERVE IN HAERETZ… even if it’s peeling potatoes to free up two eager hands to serve.

  2. Arie's Pragmatic Politics says:

    IF only 1300 are required to do National Service, then ONLY those 1300 should receive any State benefits! PERIOD. There is no excuse that other Orthodox Jews, Secular Jews, and many Druze serve the State risking life and limb while Haredim need not yet believe they should receive the same benefits. ALL benefits, including public sector jobs, health and welfare benefits, and State-finance education should be based solely on serving the State. That should apply to the Arab sector as well…….if you have a moral objection that can be proven to serving in Tzahal, that does not stop individuals from other service: that service can include public works, teaching, municipal help. Serve, or be denied. ALL Israelis must be treated the same. This segregation is the TRUE racism!

  3. Rc Fowler says:

    Most Haredim are not fit for military service, the military would be better off without Haredim among their ranks–Israel would be better off without the Haredim in the military!

  4. Rc Fowler says:

    How about Israeli's earn their own way and not depend on tax payer benefits!

  5. Rc Fowler says:

    Forcing Haredim into national service–which most do not want any part of is wrong!

  6. Rc Fowler says:

    Forcing Muslim Arabs–who are sworn to destroy Israel–is insane!

    Tzipi Livni with her Godless cultural Marxism where everyone must be treated the same–is incompetent as everyone is not the same, nor is everyone fit for national service!

  7. Arie's Pragmatic Politics says:

    By benefits, I refer to schooling – specifically university – health care and prioritization of job selection for public sector jobs. Where is that not earning their own way? And by serving and offering their lives for the country, there should be no issue!

    In the US, veterans receive an automatic preference for employment in the public sector, are provided free university education (my son attended college in the US Air Force), and future medical benefits ie: the VA, as well as reduced loan rates for mortgages. They earned it offering their lives to protect us. Those aren't "benefits," they are rewards and thanks

  8. Arie's Pragmatic Politics says:

    Why is it wrong? IF they don't want to provide national service – and it doesn't have to be military service – then they should not expect any taxpayer accommodations or benefits

  9. Arie's Pragmatic Politics says:

    NATIONAL service, is not military service! Teaching, clerical, public works, etc as should the Arabs. Quid pro quo. Don't expect the taxpayers to feed house or educate you if you are not prepared to subscribe. Citizenship has responsibilities

  10. Arie's Pragmatic Politics says:

    Majority of Muslim Arabs in Israel prefer Israeli citizenship and have indicated they would not want to be part of a "Palestine." That is a clear statement they don't want to destroy the State.

    And yes EVERYONE is FIT for national service! You can teach; you can be a clerk replacing a Tzahal member for other duties; you can work in a public sector job for 2 years; and you can pick up a shovel and broom and clean your own neighborhoods. Not all national service requires a gun. Let them serve – Jew AND Arab – or let them fend for themselves.

  11. Arie's Pragmatic Politics says:

    IF only 1300 are required to do National Service, then ONLY those 1300 should receive any State benefits! PERIOD. There is no excuse that other Orthodox Jews, Secular Jews, and many Druze serve the State risking life and limb while Haredim need not yet believe they should receive the same benefits. ALL benefits, including public sector jobs, health and welfare benefits, and State-finance education should be based solely on serving the State. That should apply to the Arab sector as well…….if you have a moral objection that can be proven to serving in Tzahal, that does not stop individuals from other service: that service can include public works, teaching, municipal help. Serve, or be denied. ALL Israelis must be treated the same. This segregation is the TRUE racism!

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