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Sunday, March 17, 2013

Let the circus begin!

More details have been released about the coalition agreement as it relates to the Haredi draft and religion and state.
For the new legislation on haredi enlistment, a ministerial committee will be set up to devise the bill, which must be brought to the Knesset within 45 days of the swearing-in of the government.
The plan, to be implemented by 2017, will set a limit of 1,800 yeshiva students who will be given a complete exemption each year from national service at the age of 21 and who will receive a higher stipend than at present.
They will be obligated to study until 26 and will be subject to personal economic sanctions if they evade their obligations.
And as anyone who knows how this country works can already figure out, the identity of those 1,800 will be determined by protectziot (whom you know).  Unfortunately, it is highly unlikely that these will be the top 1,800 boys in yeshiva.

I'm just waiting for the national religious yeshivas to wake up and demand to be part of the exemptions. I assume that will happen too.
Anyone wishing to defer their national service for religious studies may do so until age 21, when they will have to perform either military or civilian service, with the Defense Ministry and IDF given first choice on who will be drafted into the army. The remainder will go to civilian service, will which – for the majority of recruits – consist of “substantial service” in the Police, Ambulance, or Fire and Rescue services as well as the IDF Home Front Command and the voluntary emergency response service ZAKA. Those serving in the Civilian Service will be paid less than those in the IDF.
Anyone refusing to serve without an exemption will be subject to personal economic sanctions. Yeshivot with high percentages of students who refuse to serve will also have financial penalties levied against them.
This is the real club and I suspect we will see yeshivoth trying to raise money abroad even more than they do already.

I also wonder what will happen when the country's poverty statistics start to reflect the fact that they're cutting off support from people who are already barely making it. What effect will that have on Israel's membership in the OECD, for example. I doubt that 100% will refuse to serve, but I suspect that a very high percentage will refuse to serve. And by the way, what about all the non-Haredi draft evaders?
The plan also seeks to draft at least 1,600 haredim into combat units with at least two new battalions of what is known as Nahal Haredi to be established by 2014, with more to come after that, and the creation of a haredi basic training base.
For the record, Nahal Haredi is already the largest unit in the IDF.... But don't tell anyone that.
Between now and 2017, anyone over the age of 22 will be given the option to serve or not. Anyone choosing not to serve will be given an exemption, cleared to join the workforce and be provided with professional training in sectors of the economy requiring additional manpower.
But what happens after 2017 to anyone over age 22 who refuses to serve? Is the country going on a massive prison construction spree between now and then?
One of the most important clauses of the coalition agreement is that granting of all state benefits will be dependent on either being employed or proving that one is actively looking for employment.
This will have a serious effect on the ability of full-time yeshiva students to continue studying. This condition will also apply to subsidized daycare for children, especially important in the haredi community, but will only take effect in five years.
What happens to people who are self-employed? What does 'actively looking for employment' mean? What if there is none? What if there is none that matches your skill sets? Don't forget - we're not talking about unemployment compensation here. We're talking about child allowances and government-subsidized mortgages for young couples. Speaking of which, this coalition apparently doesn't allow housewives anymore....

These new policies will specifically have a serious effect on those who are really studying. It will have much less effect on those working 'off the books' on the side. And yes, that goes on everywhere in this country, not just in the Haredi world.
The agreement also calls for core curriculum subjects to be taught to all schoolchildren, including haredim.
Haredi schools will have two years to implement this curriculum.
Good luck with that. 
With regards to issues of religion and state, the coalition agreement with Bayit Yehudi states that “legislative changes in matters of religion will be [made] with the agreement of all coalition parties.”
This essentially gives the national-religious Bayit Yehudi party, along with all the others, the ability to stymie reforms on religious matters such as the hot-button issues of civil marriage, and conversion.
However, the agreement also lacks for the first time a clause committing the government to the preservation of the “status quo” on religious matters, the series of promises to the haredi community pertaining to the preservation of religious standards made by David Ben- Gurion in 1947, possibly opening the way for reforms in this area.
It also gives the religion-hating Tzipi Livni a veto over what legislation gets proposed. And Livni plans to use that veto:
"The disagreements between me and the Bayit Yehudi are very deep," Livni told Channel 10. "Regrettably, the pact between Lapid and Bennett inserted those elements into the government."
"I hope that on the diplomatic subjects, Lapid won't adopt Bennett's views," she added. "I expect that in this government, at least on diplomatic matters, we will receive support from Bayit Yehudi and the pact will not lead to substantive issues being blocked. It is not going to be easy; I am going to fight. There are subjects on which, at least as far as I understand, they are not of the same mind."
Livni said that as the Chair of the Ministerial Committee on Legislation, she would block the Jewish Nation Law, which is a part of Likud's agreement with Bayit Yehudi. The law changes the balance between Israel's "democratic" and "Jewish" nature, and makes it clear that of the two principles, the definition of the state's Jewish nature is the more important one.
The law would downgrade the status of the Arabic language as an official language and would promote construction policies that favor Jews.
 Let the circus begin. What could go wrong?

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At 6:31 PM, Blogger Unknown said...

Anyone refusing to serve without an exemption will be subject to personal economic sanctions. Yeshivot with high percentages of students who refuse to serve will also have financial penalties levied against them.

This is the real club and I suspect we will see yeshivoth trying to raise money abroad even more than they do already.

I can't wait until I see one of the schorrers in my Beis Knesses in Monsey begging for money and criticizing the "evil government".


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