Let the IDF choose its soldiers

Stella Korin-Lieber

Instead of becoming a country with a draft police, we could become a country that fosters, empowers, and pampers those who serve.

There is no chance of forcing haredi (ultra-orthodox) or secular Jews to fight. There is no chance for the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) as the defenders of the country if it is manned by masses who do not want to be in it, do not believe in it, oppose it, and most of all oppose serving in it. The people who vociferously oppose the teaching of civics in the schools to the point of sacrificing on the altar of the Torah, should not be forced to serve the country for several years.

As long as we are discussing haredi coercion, what about haredi women in the IDF? The exclusion of women soldiers, or the enforcement of "modest" dress on them, to avoid disturbing the peace of mind of the bearded ones, would unquestionably follow the drafting of masses of haredim.

With all due respect and value of the word "equality" (which has never, and will never, exist even if all the recommendations of the committee chaired by MK Yohanan Plesner (Kadima) are adopted), with regard to the drafting of everyone (the current number of draftees is already close to just 50% of all potential draftees), and the historic slogans about the "people's army" (which did not exist in 1948 either), it won't work through coercion, let alone through belligerence. Secular arrogance towards the men who wear black coats, grow side curls, and look away won't work either.

The so-called "radical solution", as ruled by the Supreme Court when it cancelled the Tal Law, is no solution. Most of all, no political deal will work. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, Deputy Prime Minister and Kadima chairman Shaul Mofaz, Minister of Interior and Shas chairman Eli Yishai, Plesner and his colleagues, and the dealmakers on every side, will disappear as the years go by, but the public will remain. The nation will have to live the burden of a heavy military service due to the army of draft-evaders, and with a lethal economic burden that borders on an existential threat.

This is a matter of principle. Prof. Avi Ben-Basset has provided the numbers. In 30 years, the haredim will amount to 20% of the country's population, and the Arabs will account for another 23%. The proportion of the non-servers in the IDF and non-workers in the economy will reach 43% of the population from the current 30%. If the norms do not change, GDP per capita will fall and the costs will soar, because fewer people will work than the people who live off of them.

We'll punish them, says the tough guy, and they will decide. If they don’t want to work, not to serve in the IDF or in National Service - go ahead. Just do it at their own expense. No more benefits, no more financing, no more National Insurance payments, and no more family grants. No money. Where will he be when millions of children literally starve in Israel's streets?

It is possible to force the haredim and the Arabs to serve in the IDF (and who really wants them in the IDF's ranks?), or to serve in National Service for three years (and what will happen to the country's unskilled labor?). It is possible to channel all energies toward the people who do serve, voluntarily, out of moral, personal, and civic duty.

Instead of becoming a country with a draft police, we could become a country that fosters, empowers, and pampers those who serve. Everyone should be drafted, but the IDF should choose who will serve in its ranks. It should choose its future fighters, it combat support troops, its professionals and rear-echelon pen pushers. All servicemen and women will receive a full salary based on the average national salary every month throughout their military service.

All the others, men and women, haredim and secular Jews, Druze and Muslims and Christians, pacifists, people with mental health problems, and humanists who don’t like bearing arms, will get no benefits. None. No housing or mortgage benefits, no subsidies for studies, no income support payments, (except for the pension-less elderly, children at risk, and the handicapped who cannot work). No more gifts, no more transfer payments, no more grants, and benefits. No more suckers.

Published by Globes [online], Israel business news - www.globes-online.com - on July 8, 2012

© Copyright of Globes Publisher Itonut (1983) Ltd. 2012

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