Since Israel’s new military draft law was passed about three months ago, 2,996 haredi men aged 22- to 28-years received draft notices ordering them to report to an IDF induction center for initial evaluation. But of those 2,996, only 1,126 – 38% – actually reported and of them, only 1 haredi man actually enlisted, an IDF Manpower Directorate report presented to a Knesset committee yesterday reportedly shows.
Since New Draft Law Passed, Only 1 Out Of 2,996 Adult Haredi Men Who Received An IDF Draft Notice Actually Enlisted, IDF Says
Shmarya Rosenberg • FailedMessiah.com
Since Israel’s new military draft law was passed about three months ago, 2,996 haredi men aged 22- to 28-years received draft notices ordering them to report to an IDF induction center for initial evaluation. But of those 2,996, only 1,126 – 38% – actually reported and of them, only one haredi man actually enlisted, Israel HaYom reported based on an IDF Manpower Directorate report presented to a Knesset committee yesterday.
Haredim between the ages 22-28 are exempt from military service under the new law if they report to an induction center when summoned and request an exemption. Those who do not want to be exempt can either serve in the IDF or opt to serve in national civilian service as volunteers for various nonprofits and schools.
Since the new law was passed, only one haredi man in that age bracket chose to enlist in the IDF. Perhaps more shocking, only 15 enlisted in the national civilian service. Of the 2,996 haredi men who actually reported to an IDF induction center, 1,090 received a full exemption from military service. Twenty others are still thinking about what choice to take.
Among the younger 18- to 22-year-old cohort, 3,357 were summoned by the IDF. But only 40% of them reported. (It is unclear how many of them enlisted, although the number is likely very small.)
Of the thousands of haredi men who failed to report to an induction center when summoned, it appears that at most only four or five were arrested – and it is likely they were sent draft notices before the new law was passed. Those few who were arrested (whenever they were actually sent draft notices) and then were prosecuted served sentences that average only between 10- to 15-days in an IDF jail.
The Ministry of Defense – controlled by the ruling Likud Party – has not yet approved the new regulations necessary to actually recruit haredim to the civilian national service, the Jerusalem Post reported. And that, the committee was told by the director of the civilian national service's haredi program, has led to a complete stop in recruitment to it.
MK Ayelet Shaked of the right wing Zionist Orthodox HaBayit HaYehudi Party is the chair of the Knesset’s Equality of Burden Law Committee that received the IDF’s report. She said she wants to hold committee deliberations to discuss modifying the law, presumably to make it even less demanding on haredim than it already is.
"These are the fruits of a compulsive legislation by those in the Knesset who thought this is the way to increase haredi enlistment. In reality the atmosphere in the haredi street as a result of the law has become anti-enlistment,” Habayit Hayehudi MK Moti Yogev said.
Israeli non-Orthodox Jewish men and women of draft age are required by law to serve in the IDF.
Zionist Orthodox women are exempt from serving if they join the national civilian service.
Zionist Orthodox men most often enlist in a special hesder yeshiva program that sees them serve about half the active duty time non-Orthodox Israelis must serve. The rest of their army service is spent studying in Zionist Orthodox yeshivas.
Until the High Court of Justice struck down the arrangement as discriminatory and illegal, haredi men were completely exempt from both service in the IDF or the national civilian service as long as they studied full time in a haredi yeshiva and haredi women were completely exempt.
The new draft law, written because of that High Court ruling, was supposed to equalize the share of serving in the IDF between these three disparate groups.
Instead, the Knesset committee headed by Shaked wrote a law that essentially will allow most, if not all, haredim to escape all forms of military or civilian service.
Quotas for haredi IDF enlistment contained in the law are defined so they can be filled by ex-haredim, ba’al teshuvas, adult converts, and even traditional Sefardim who, although not fully Orthodox, attended certain Sefardi haredi Shas Party schools.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, both of the right of center Likud Party, even went so far as to openly promise haredi leaders that no haredi yeshiva students will ever be inducted into the IDF against their will.
However, non-haredi Israelis, even Zionist Orthodox Israelis, who dodge the draft are usually criminally prosecuted and face many other societal penalties for failing to serve.
Many observers believe the only likely way for Likud to retain power after the next election is for it to regain the support of haredi parties – Likud’s only natural Knesset allies.
Both Netanyahu and Ya’alon have long histories of skirting and flouting High Court rulings.
Haredi rabbinic and political leaders vehemently oppose any haredim serving in the IDF or in national civilian service and have threatened to stage large nationwide protests and riots if haredim are forcibly inducted or jailed for failure to serve.