Ministerial Committee For Legislation Passes Bill That Would Give Haredi Draft Dodgers Priority In Hiring, Angering Many Israelis
Shmarya Rosenberg • FailedMessiah.com
Israel’s Ministerial Committee for Legislation passed a haredi-sponsored bill giving haredi draft-dodgers precedence in hiring for civil service positions over IDF veterans.
The move has incensed good government and religious freedom NGOs, some who called the bill a “moral distortion,” Ha’aretz reported.
The bill, sponsored by the Ashkenazi haredi Untied Torah Judaism Party (UTJ), is meant to be an affirmative action plan for haredim. But the bill is written in a way that gives haredim who dodge the draft greater weight for hiring than IDF veterans, and haredim who have served in the IDF are given no preference for that – meaning many of their draft-dodging brethren will be hired before them.
If the bill passes the full Knesset, it would change the current affirmative action status quo for civil service hiring that gives precedence to women, new immigrants, Druze, and Circassians – if they serve in the army or in the civilian national service – and to Israeli Arabs, who are exempt from military service so they do not have to fight against enemies who are often relatives.
“The ultra-Orthodox public’s representation in the civil service is the lowest of all, compared to its part in the population,” UTJ MKs Rabbi Moshe Gafni and Uri Maklev wrote in support of their bill, which would also apply to hiring in government corporations.
Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s governing coalition is obligate to support the bill under the coalition agreement Netanyahu’s Likud Party signed with UTJ.
Reform Rabbi Uri Regev, who heads of the religious freedom NGO Hiddush, called the bill an “unequaled moral distortion” and suggested renaming the bill “operation ‘a job for every draft evader.’”
“Integrating haredi men into the labor market is a vital national challenge,” Regev reportedly said, “but the top priority should be given the 15,000 ultra-Orthodox men who have served in the IDF or in the civic service. But giving priority to Jewish men who could have served and chose to dodge the service is unparalleled cynicism.”
Regev also noted that “Israel has conveyed on more than one occasion that those who fight, risk their life, and gives [the country and the IDF] their best years and sometimes their life and health as well – that [those who do so] are suckers.”
Another NGO, the Forum for Equal Military Service, was equally as blunt.
“We view with shock and anger how the power-intoxicated haredi parties succeed again and again in eroding the fragile status of those serving in the military and civilian national service. We demand that the prime minister, defense minister and MKs who were elected to the Knesset because of their pledge to fight for equality in the service, not allow legislation enabling haredim who evaded military service to receive a prize like priority in receiving a job in the civil service. We [i.e., the Israeli public and the NGO] denounce draft-dodgers like models, actors and singers who make a career while their friends serve in the army. Yet the [governing] coalition intends to reward haredi draft dodgers generously only because their MKs can pass such laws [due the deal they made with Netanyahu],” the forum reportedly said in a statement.
All Israeli Jews are required by law to serve in the IDF, except for Zionist Orthodox girls who can legally opt to serve in the civilian national service.
But the vast majority of haredim have refused to be drafted and instead study full time in yeshivas, surviving on government welfare, stipends and charity, and successive Netanyahu governments have enabled that haredi draft-dodging despite sharp criticism of it from the High Court of Justice.
Without the support of haredi political parties, the current Netanyahu government would collapse, and it is unlikely that any future government headed by Netanyahu could be formed without haredi support.
Top haredi rabbis claim haredi Torah study – not the IDF and its advanced weapons systems – is what guards and protects Israel from its enemies and forbid haredim from serving in the IDF so as not to lessen the protection their Torah study would otherwise provide.
Polls have consistently shown the vast majority of non-haredi Israelis, even the vast majority of people who vote for Ntanyahu's Likud Party, are fed up with the community and want it to pull its own weight – including doing full military service.
Update 1:15 am CDT 7-23-2015 – The bill has now reportedly passed its first Knesset reading with 85 out of 120 possible votes.