Jun 19, 2018

the IDF doesn't really need us anyway

One of the main arguments always used, and being used now during the current debate about the draft law proposal, against drafting Haredim is that the army does not need them anyway. There are too many soldiers as it is, the army has no need for another few thousand soldiers - soldiers who dont want to be there anyway. So, considering that, the only purpose in forcing a draft of Haredim is an attempt to change their lifestyle. The army and the politicians should just release the Haredim from this obligation.

So goes the argument. One of the most frequently used arguments on this issue.

I have a question about this argument, if you accept the premise that the army does not need them, which I do not know if it is really true or not.

If the attempt to draft the Haredim, or some of the Haredim, is based on the idea of "shivyon bnetel", sharing the burden equally, and the army does not need an additional few thousand soldiers each year, why exempt the Haredim from the draft rather than some equal proportion of young men and women from all sectors of society,m, proportionally?

Meaning, let's say the IDF has 20,000 soldiers and does not need any more soldiers this year. The incoming draft will bring in, if you include all potential draftees (including Haredim), let's say 8000 soldiers, with the army needing, say only 5000.

Why exempt 3000 Haredim from the draft, just because the army doesn't need them? If we want shivyon bnetel, the army could exempt 3000 people from serving but why 3000 specific people from one sector of society - spread it out proportionally among all sectors and exempt 3000 people including some haredim, some DL, some secular, some men, some women, some Druze - a little bit of everybody. This way, according to the argument that the army does not need so many soldiers, the excess of soldiers will be relieved but it will be relieved fairly, with not just one sector benefitting from it but all sectors. Are young Haredi men the only people in the country who do not want to spend 2 or 3 years of their lives in the IDF? Surely among the thousands of draftees every draft cycle there are plenty of young men and women who would prefer to be doing other things for the coming three years and the army could release some of them all.

I do not know if the entire premise is true, that the army does not need them. It might just be a convenient argument that nobody has the information handy to prove or disprove so they just accept it. But even if true, why is the argument - therefore the Haredim should just be exempted - just taken at face value? Why does nobody say, you have a point, and we will talk about exempting x number of soldiers every year, due to lack of need, distributed evenly, or by some fair criterion?

It seems to be a much fairer way to oppose the Haredi exemption than just ignoring the idea of not really needing them and saying shivyon bnetel. When they argue that they aren't needed and should be exempted, their opponents on this issue (ie politicians, media, etc) should make a proposal to accept that concept and discuss an even distribution of exemptions. Why should only one sector of society benefit from this?

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  1. To add on to your argument, what if one day things change and the army really does need them? Would those same people be in favour of haredim going into the army to cover the shortage?

  2. If you think of it in terms of manpower instead of number of draftees, there's a more equitable solution: shorten the length of service. Besides addressing the need properly, it will provide a powerful argument against an exemption for a part of the general population.

    The Haredi line is now that whether or not they're drafted doesn't really affect anyone else (the concept of "fair" notwithstanding, and, personally, I think it's not the best argument when it comes to military decisions). But if exempting Hareidim means that everyone else has to serve longer, they'll have a much harder time making their case.

    Of course, there's always the possibility (a very good one, IMHO) that the army, which has a manpower division, and which recently shortened the mandatory length of service, has thought of this, and that they really don't want to have to deal with a few thousand Hareidim in the army.

  3. The question isn't just numbers but also motivation, 3000 motivated Hesder boys, or idealistic kibbutznikim are more value to the army than 3000 Haredim who do not want to be there, and place extra expense on the army (demands for Mehadrin food, separate basis without women etc cost the army money).

    The man argument to draft haredim is Shivyon B'Netel - i.e., they should serve like everyone else even if the army doesn't want them. But a more logical way to solve the problem would be to offer national service as an alternative to anyone who is unable or unwilling to serve (Pacifists, Arabs, Haredim, people with low profile, religious women, etc)

    1. or to have significant economic or other penalties for asking for non shivyon status... eg non-citizen permanent resident with no voting rights....

  4. The truth is the first paragraph of this post is right. They are really not needed as was said by a number of commanders, when this whole brouha started a while back. There is only one reason that they are 'adamant' in forcing the draft and that is to secularize them. The rest of the world has gone the opposite way to volunteer armies just as the other countries do not draft women, Israel does. Disgraceful.

  5. No country which has been defending itself for 70 years has a volunteer army. You still think it's 1950, instead of 2018. Another example of Haredim living in the past.

  6. Very well put. This is a point I've made myself. Why does your choice of headgear give you different rights?

  7. I find it hard to believe that the army really doesn't need them, when you see so many young adults trying to get on in life at university, starting careers etc, who have to take weeks out of their life, away from their family, every year to do miluim - usually guard duty. Bring in the yeshiva boys and let them do their share!!


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