Sunday, April 29, 2007

What if Israel Relaxed the Draft?

I have to agree with a fabulous point the Real Adiel made about the secular Israeli government's approach to Haredim. Israel has a draft. Every 18 year old male citizen must serve in the army. However, the ultra-religious refuse to serve because of religious concerns and use "dchuyot" and "peturim" (deferment and exemptions) lehitchamek (to escape) their service. This is a sore point among secular Israelis who accuse the religious of disloyalty.

The Real Adiel points out that if the government would stop insisting on drafting the religious, they could integrate them in other ways to become a healthy constructive part of society. The current situation hurts everyone. The religious won't serve in the army anyway, but the current means of escaping army service often preclude their ability to get an education and a job. If the government would allow for unpunished conscientious objection, the country would benefit from the talents of the religious, albeit not in the military.

Would Israel really suffer if it relaxed the draft? Most Israelis I've spoken to made their own decision about army service. They all got drafted. Some chose to serve, while others used various means to dodge the call. Many feel it is a duty, honor, and privilege to serve and protect their country. Others feel that joining the IDF threatens their religious identity and morals. Conscription is not such a great factor. It may be time for Israel to experiment with relaxing the draft. This can also have a huge positive impact on immigration, because many are afraid to make aliyah knowing they will have to send their kids to the army.

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