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Feb 10, 2013

MK Moshe Feiglin's "professional army" solution to the Haredi draft

MK Moshe Feiglin's weekly update this past week included a letter he had sent to the various party who are likely to be a part of the coming coalition, and those who are focusing right now on the issue of "shivyon b'netel" - the sharing of the burden of army service.

Feiglin has been a proponent of the canceling of the draft and turning the IDF into a professional army. In his latest update, Feiglin explains further his plan - briefly that is to keep the Mandatory Draft Law, but allow the army to only draft those people that it needs, while most recruits will serve a training period of about two months and will then be discharged. This will allow them a basic level of training that will allow them to be drafted and be useful in a time of emergency.. There will be recruits for different amounts of time, based on the task and role they volunteer for, reserve duty soldiers will be paid higher rates and given national priority classification for various aspects of benefits in society such as academics, housing and employment.

According to Feiglin's plan, everybody will receive some training, but only those who want to will actually serve in the army.

Whether his plan is feasible or not, and whether it will work or not the way he thinks it will, I do not know. I do wonder how he thinks this will solve the national heated discussion, which he is trying to put to rest with his proposal at this time.

Does MK Feiglin really think that, should his proposal be accepted and passed, the Haredi leadership will agree to "clear out the yeshivot" (terminology used by the haredi leadership, not by Feiglin or by any of the other party leaders looking for a solution to "shivyon b'netel") even for just a period of two months?

It is true that serving for two months in basic training, according to Feiglin's plan, will then free them up for the rest of their lives. They will be able to go back to yeshiva and learn, if they want to, or to work if they want to, or to university or to travel abroad or to wherever and whatever they want. However, the haredi opposition to the army draft was never about how much time the service was meant to be. They weren't opposed to the 3 years of army service, but to the army service. They don't want their boys leaving yeshiva and serving in a non-religious environment, for however much time it is meant to be. They don't want their boys serving under the command of secular officers, in the presence of females, being fed food that might not be the "right" hechsher, and of being exposed to the world outside the yeshiva. To the haredi leadership, two months is no better than 3 years. I do not see why or how Feiglin believes this solution is one that the haredi leadership will agree to.

I don't know if the professional army solution is good or not for the country and the army. I am not offering an opinion on that, I am definitely not criticizing it, and I do find the concept intriguing. I just don't see how it solves the issue that is the focus of the current debate and conflict between communities - the drafting of the Haredi community. It hasn't happened with the service period being 3 years and I don't see why it should happen if the service period is 2 months. And if it isn't going to happen anyway, if it is not going to solve the fragmentation of society as Feiglin describes, then what's the point?





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