The Tal Law, which gave haredi yeshiva students (illegal) exemption from military service, expired over a month ago on the order of the High Court of Justice, but politicians and the IDF don't appear to be in any rush to draft a replacement law. As things stand, haredi yeshiva students can no longer evade military service – theoretically. In reality, the end of the Tal Law has not brought any change in haredi IDF service, or penalties for evading it.
Amos Harel writes in Ha'aretz:
…Shahar Ilan, deputy director of Hiddush - an NPO that fights for "Religious Freedom and Equality" - offers a blunt analysis of recent steps taken by the security establishment. Frequent committee meetings staged by Barak, Ilan claims, serve as a fig leaf to protect the state during anticipated High Court petitions calling for a change in ultra-Orthodox draft exemptions. The committee sessions also allay public concern, Ilan believes; they create a sense that this vexing issue is being addressed. If you're worried about ultra-Orthodox men being forced into the army, you can relax, says Ilan: "No additional Haredi man will be drafted during the coming year," he says.
This week, a group of social scientists addressed the draft exemption issue, assessing simulated models in a project sponsored by the Open University of Israel. The simulation exercises, sponsored by Prof. Yagil Levy - a leading researcher of topics involving the IDF and Israeli society - dealt with possible consequences of changes to the Tal Law, focusing on scenarios and proposals that have already been considered. Three alternative models were reviewed - the Plesner committee's proposal, a compromise alternative backed by Vice Prime Minister Moshe Ya'alon, and a draft paradigm submitted by Yair Lapid. Participants in this simulation assessment included Prof. Stuart A. Cohen from Bar-Ilan University and Dr. Reuven Gal, former head of the civil service administration.
Somewhat surprisingly, the eight researchers involved in the project reached what might be called an anti-Plesner consensus. Two months ago, the Plesner committee's proposals received broad backing, particularly among media commentators, but these eight researchers adopted a much more skeptical stance toward them. The researchers, none of them ultra-Orthodox, attacked the Plesner recommendations from various angles. The participants contended that the Plesner proposals' implementation would not have much utility, and would likely bring more damage than benefits.
Among other issues, they anticipate that forceful application of the Plesner plan would incite extreme responses among the Haredi population, and bring to an end trends of pragmatism which have been discernible in the ultra-Orthodox world in recent years.
The state, the researchers contended, would find it very difficult to enforce the new law, and confrontations with the ultra-Orthodox would exacerbate the rift between religious and secular populations in the country. Such controversy would derail trends of Haredi integration in the workplace; and the IDF would have to deal with a new group of extremely unmotivated conscripts.
Massive compulsory conscription would institutionalize inequality in the IDF ranks; soldiers would serve on different tracks; prodigal salary demands would undermine the ethos of compulsory service, and possibly even bring about the collapse of the compulsory service model.
Similar claims were articulated two months ago during a similar symposium sponsored by the Women's International Zionist Organization, at a time when it seemed that the coalition was seriously considering adopting the Plesner committee model. Some researchers at this week's conference warned that widespread Haredi conscription would exacerbate trends of female exclusion in the army, and contribute to trends that could turn female service into a voluntary option in Israel (as a result of the reluctance of young secular women to serve under newly degrading circumstances ).…