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Sunday, July 28, 2013

This is rich: 'Equalizing the burden' comes back to bite National Religious

One of the big campaign planks of the Jewish Home party - the heir to the National Religious Party - was 'equalizing the burden.' The Jewish Home party called loud and clear for 'all' Israeli citizens to do three years in the IDF, or in national service if they could not serve in the IDF. The Jewish Home party was so adamant about that plank, that it conspired with Yair Lapid's Yesh Atid party to exclude Haredim from the coalition to ensure that 'equalizing the burden' would be implemented.

There's one small problem. Many of the Jewish Home party's supporters don't exactly do what much of the country would consider an 'equal' share. Most religious women avoid the army simply by declaring themselves to be religious. And many national religious men do hesder - a program that combines Torah study with army service, but the army service is limited to 16 months of active duty.

Now, Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein and his Tel Aviv supporters are going to call them on it.
At Sunday's cabinet meeting, Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein said that among the groups the government should be “encouraging” to serve a full three years in the army are Hesder yeshiva students – and religious girls and women.
If Israel truly wishes for the defense burden to be shared equitably, it must ensure that all groups serve the full 32 months that regular IDF male recruits serve, the Justice Ministry said Sunday.
In a statement, the Ministry said that it was necessary to examine all the issues involved in equitable service. “In advance of the final government decision on equitable service the government must investigate anew the possibility of increasing the length of service for all yeshiva students as well,” including Hesder students.
According to the Ministry, the government must change its position that it considers 17 months sufficient for Hesder students. In its statement, the Ministry said that the High Court would probably throw out any law that allowed one group to serve for a shorter period than the full amount of time than another group served.
Speaking before the government, Weinstein said that the government needed to put into place a method whereby groups would be “encouraged” to commit to the full service expected. That, he said, would include religious girls and women, who like girls and women from a secular background, should be serving as well.
 What goes around comes around....

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