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Wednesday, August 01, 2012

Tal Law expires, nothing changes

The Tal Law, which governed the granting of IDF deferrals for yeshiva students, expired at Midnight last night (July 31). The Knesset has passed no law to replace it, and the Defense Minister, rather than trying to draft yeshiva students en masse, has given the IDF a month to come up with a plan. The Knesset is or soon will be on summer recess anyway. Don't expect any mass draft of Haredim in the near future.
If the yeshiva student community were to test the IDF establishment with a mass enlistment, the army would find itself overwhelmed. Although it has created the Nahal Hareidi unit for combat soldiers, it is not equipped to absorb the sudden enlistment of tens of thousands of men, and it also cannot meet all their religious needs at once.

It has created several programs to meet the needs and demands of women soldiers, criminals who are undergoing rehabilitation, new immigrants and even handicapped people.

Officially, hareidi youth could be arrested for not obtaining exemptions, but in practice, no action is expected until officials can draw up plans how to deal with the new situation.

There is a possibility, if not probability, that extreme secular elements will petition the High Court that the IDF enforce the requirement to draft yeshiva students, but the government would likely request a postponement for several months.

If the political and military establishment were to arrest all young men who do not enlist, the prison system would have the headache of trying to accommodate thousands of men preferring to sit in jail and study Torah there instead of in yeshivas.

Attempts to replace the Tal Law were virtually doomed from the beginning, when Kadima joined the government in a new national unity coalition based on the principle of a “universal draft.”

Within nine weeks, the deal fell apart following political chess matches between Kadima leader Shaul Mofaz, who five years ago voted to extend the Tal Law, and Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, head of the Likud party.

A new attempt to pass legislation replacing the Tal Law will not occur before the Knesset returns to work after the summer vacation and High Holidays that begin with Rosh HaShanah in mid-September.

The fly in the ointment for Kadima is the Arab sector, which nationalists point out have no less a duty to serve the country than hareidi religious youth, who have been exempted because their study of Torah day and night has been recognized as serving both the country and the entire Jewish People.

Officially, Defense Minister Ehud Barak gave clear instructions that all applicants for military service come to the recruiting office and begin normal recruitment procedures. However, Chief of Staff Benny Gantz said that the army will not act before there is a clear decision from the political establishment. and that is not likely to happen in the very near future.
By seeking compromise, Prime Minister Netanyahu is doing exactly what Ben Gurion did.
Like Ben-Gurion, Netanyahu is choosing the path of compromise and gradual change, with the goal of encouraging yeshiva students to enlist voluntarily. This approach seeks to build on the positive gains of the Tal Law, noted by Justice Edna Arbel in her dissent earlier this year.

It is unrealistic to imagine that the uneasy relationship between Israel’s Haredi and secular populations that has prevailed over the last 70 years will shift overnight, or that any government, whether right- or left-wing, would seek to force such a change. In the end, this juncture never presented the “historic opportunity” for universal conscription that many wished. Perhaps Netanyahu will be able to make some incremental changes, but he can hardly be expected to take a more principled stand than Ben-Gurion.
This article includes a relatively even-handed history of how the army exemption came about, its history, and how the Tal Law came about. It's not likely to be changing by much any time soon.

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At 10:22 PM, Blogger Red Tulips said...

It is to Israel's detriment that Haredim are not drafted. Carl, you have not written one word that gives any form of adequate explanation into why Haredim (and for that matter, also Arabs) should not be required to perform EITHER national service or army service.

Over the long haul, Israel cannot keep supporting Haredim with welfare payments to sit in a kollel all day. If Haredim are forced to join the army, this will acclimate them to the general culture and only be a springboard for further productivity and a generally more harmonious society. It is not the Jewish way, nor is it sensible or rational, for an entire segment of society to simply sit in a kollel all day receiving welfare payments. The Arabs also need skin in the game and are less productive citizens. I believe the army is a way to integrate these people - Haredi and Arab - into society in general. And there is really no excuse, because National Service is another option for Haredim or Arabs.

Either Israel acts now - when something can be done to prevent a long-term catastrophe - or it will have to act much later.

That is the bottom line. I would think this is something you and I should frankly agree on.

I am appalled at the Haredi rabbis who proclaim a desire to bring down the State of Israel, rather than to allow their congregants to enter army service. These rabbis should be ashamed of themselves.

At 9:50 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bravo, Red Tulips! What you said!

However, I'm all against drafting the Arabs. Keep Israel's 5th Column out of everything.

At 5:06 PM, Blogger Sunlight said...

Shy Guy, having seen the greenhouse set-ups in the Jordan Valley, which do employ locals including Palestinians... makes me want to live in Negev County, with lots of greenhouses learning every last thing about food production, run with national service positions (any type of people), with online classes sprinkled through the day in reading, writing, and arithmetic (through PhD level!)... Really, the national service could be half the time learning the greenhouse design/construction, infrastructure, botany, chemistry, etc. etc. and the later second half maybe teaming with people from South Sudan and other African places where Israel teams on upgrading food/water supplies - bring in applicants, have the national service people teach them everything they've learned during the first part, so the participants can all take it back to their areas...

Anyway, it's so hard when you have to deal with incoming rockets at the same time. But it could be interesting... Signed, Pollyanna?


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