“The correct way to ensure the integration of haredim into the IDF and Israeli society is a gradual process through special army courses and in the civilian service. It is not right to enter a drastic process of coercion that will lead immediately to opposition [from haredi leaders and haredi yeshiva students]."
Israel’s Defense Minister Again Says Don’t Draft Haredim
Shmarya Rosenberg • FailedMessiah.com
Israel’s Defense Minister, Moshe Ya’alon of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s Likud Party, reportedly again told a Knesset committee that he was opposed to drafting haredi yeshiva students.
Instead, Ya’alon – who has consistently pandered to Likud’s only real Knesset allies, the haredi parties – insisted that haredim should be allowed to gradually enter the IDF without any coercion, the Jerusalem Post reported – even though the Israel’s High Court of Justice has essentially ruled that would be illegal.
“The correct way to ensure the integration of haredim into the IDF and Israeli society is a gradual process through special army courses and in the civilian service. It is not right to enter a drastic process of coercion that will lead immediately to opposition [from haredi leaders and haredi yeshiva students],” Ya’alon insisted as he spoke out against the current government-backed draft bill.
The High Court has not been sympathetic to Ya’alon’s arguments.
However, Likud as a party has never really respected the court’s rulings and has often found ways to skirt them or simply ignore them – something not surprising for a party that many observers say has only tenuous grasp of democracy and which is led by a prime minister who is almost universally hated by politicians outside Likud because he is widely viewed as dishonest.
Meanwhile, at the same Knesset hearing Ashkenazi haredi Member of Knesset Rabbi Moshe Gafni threatened that if the Knesset approved haredi draft legislation as it is now written, haredi rabbinic leadership would ban any haredi enlistment or draft whatsoever.
“If the law will force enlistment of Torah students, we will forbid totally the continued enlistment of those haredim who are not studying and [seek] to enlist,” Gafni threatened.
Prof. Yedidya Stern, the vice president of the Israel Democracy Institute who was a member of the Plesner Committee which worked to prepare a draft bill last year but which was eventually thwarted by Netanyahu, also attacked the current bill.
“A decision like this will lead to a rift within the nation…There is no way in the world to decide who is ‘an outstanding student’…who will be eligible for [one of] the 1,800 [yearly draft] exemptions [for outstanding haredi yeshiva students].… If there will be coercion it will lead to contempt for the rule of law, since in [actual] practice there will be no [haredi] enlistment,” Stern insisted.
Netanyahu has gone to great lengths to thwart various haredi draft proposals, allegedly because Likud’s only natural allies in the Knesset are the haredi political parties and it is likely that if Netanyahu’s current government falls, he won’t be able to hold the prime minister’s position without their support.
Ya’alon himself has ambitions to lead Likud and take the prime minister’s position in any future government and therefore needs the support of haredi parties.
For their part, the haredi parties universally oppose any draft of haredi yeshiva students.