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Thursday, June 28, 2012

Surprise: Israeli government has no interest in making Arabs do national service

In one of the many stories I missed on Wednesday, the Plessner Committee issued its recommendations regarding army or national service for the Haredi (ultra-Orthodox) sector. The committee called for escalating penalties against men who do not serve and against the yeshivoth in which they continue to study.

On Thursday, the committee made its recommendations for the Arab sector: It aims to increase the number of Arabs doing national service from 2,400 to 6,000 by 2016. There are over a million Arabs in Israel (not counting Judea or Samaria). In response, two parties, Yisrael Beiteinu and HaBayit HaYehudi have quit the committee. Will they quit the coalition next?
Yisrael Beiteinu called the committee's decision "damaging to the importance of equal service" and said that the faction believed that there was only one way to achieve an equal share of the burden, and that was to draft every citizen at age 18: secular, haredi, and Arab alike.

Meanwhile, the committee has proposed a draft plan for haredim similar to the hesder yeshiva program option currently open to the national-religious.

The plan, called Bnei Hayil, allows haredi draftees to study in yeshivas until age 19 or 20 and then serve in the military for 16 to 24 months. After their IDF service, the students will return to yeshiva.

While the committee has not specified target numbers of yeshiva students to be drafted under the new plan, it has – despite the decision not to make service mandatory for Israeli Arabs – set a target for the number of Israeli Arabs performing national service in the civil sector.

The committee wants the number of Israeli Arab national service volunteers to grow from the current 2,400 to 6,000 by 2016.

Moreover, the Plesner Committee recommended adopting a principle of "service for all" under which every citizen who isn't drafted into the IDF will sign up for national service.
JPost adds:
The Keshev Committee, tasked with drafting proposals to replace the Tal Law, issued a sharply worded response to Yisrael Beytenu’s decision, called the step a “populist move” and accused the party of “inflaming tensions” instead of working to address the issues.


“Yisrael Beytenu believes that there is only one right path to bring about the genuine equality of burden among all citizens in the country and that is for every Israeli 18 year old to serve in the military or civilian service, whether secular, haredi or Arab,” the party declared in a statement to the press.

The party has insisted throughout the process of drafting a replacement for the Tal Law that the principle of mandatory national service must be extended to the Arab community as well.

Habayit Hayehudi chairman Minister Daniel Hershkowitz told the prime minister that in light of the conclusions reached by the Keshev Committee that it would not draft Arabs into national service his party could not continue to cooperate with it.

Earlier this month, the Abraham Fund coexistence organization told the Keshev Committee that the Israeli-Arab community and political leadership would only be willing to discuss participation in national-service programs if the issue was linked to addressing inequality in the Arab sector.

The Keshev Committee decided that the issue was too complicated to be dealt with comprehensively within the timeframe open to it.
My own view is that we ought to have an all-volunteer army, with a salary and benefit package that are high enough to make it attractive, and with higher pay for combat soldiers in the field than for those with desk jobs (including computer programmers - who can make a fortune once they leave the IDF anyway - and intelligence officers). Let everyone else go out to school or work, and let the army consist only of those who are motivated and paid well. I discussed my proposals at length here. There is no such thing as 'equal service' and there cannot be. The only equal thing that can possibly exist is an equal amount of time spent being legally barred from working or studying.

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At 8:35 PM, Blogger Thermblog said...

I think Israel benefits enormously from conscription. It provides for a large force should one ever be needed again for a major war but there are also social bonuses that impact society as a whole.

At 9:21 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

In the very near future - very near - everyone in Israel will be in physical danger if we do not have a powerful, well-staffed army. I agree there are too many Jobnikim but they are training more commanders so that they can add more combat units. Everyone is needed, Arabs and religious women included. I agree that National Service is feel good BS. Everyone should do AT LEAST Rovai 02 before entering national service, and if religious girls want to learn how to shoot wearing long skirts, all the better - since they will be wearing long skirts when they have to go to their doorways to defend their children. If Israel cannot within 48 hours mobilize 3 million properly trained soldiers, we will be guilty of Somkhin Al HaNes.


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