Proposed Draft Bill Puts the “People's Army” at Risk
Should the bill be implemented as a permanent legislative arrangement, it will deal a severe blow to the principle of civic equality in Israel
In a statement issued today (Tuesday) Yohanan Plesner, President of the Israel Democracy Institute cautioned that the Ministry of Defense’s proposed draft bill “endangers IDF’s model of service as a “People's Army” based on the principle of mandatory service for all. Exemption of an entire population group such as the ultra-Orthodox undermines IDF's strength and jeopardizes the “People’s Army” model, posing a threat to Israel’s long-term security". He urged Members of Knesset to revise the bill and to pass it only as a 'temporary directive', with its validity limited to a period of five years. If after five years ultra-Orthodox recruitment targets are not met, the bill could be reviewed and necessary revisions be made. "Should the bill be implemented as a permanent legislative arrangement, it will deal a severe blow to the principle of civic equality in Israel."
Plesner added that while the aim to gradually raise the bar of recruitment goals is commendable, the proposed bill still leaves military service to the discretion of each member of the ultra-Orthodox community and does not provide sufficient legal mechanisms to enforce military service. Furthermore, the economic "sanctions" proposed in the bill as a tool for increasing compliance, are meaningless. They are minimal and will only be activated after three consecutive years of failing to meet recruitment goals.
The bill is full of loopholes; it sets the exemption and recruitment age at 24; it is intentionally ambiguous and lenient in defining who is "ultra-Orthodox"; and allows for civilian service options, that are frequently ineffective and even fictitious, as a legitimate alternative. All of these dilute the bill to the point that there is no real difference between it and the “Tal Law” arrangement which was struck down by the Supreme Court (2012) on the grounds of a disproportionate violation of to the principle of equality.
Plesner suggests that, at the very least, such legislation should be offset by substantial economic incentives to be awarded to those young Israeli men and women who continue to fulfill the requirement of mandatory and significant service in the IDF.
- Security and Democracy,
- Religion and State,
- IDF service,
- Equal Sharing of the Burden,
- Military and Society,
- Religious-Secular Relations,
- religion and state,
- The Ultra-Orthodox in Israel,
- Center for Democratic Values and Institutions,
- Center for Security and Democracy