Thursday, March 14, 2013

The New Israeli Draft Plan

INN has published details of the new draft plan as agreed upon by the three major partners in the new coaliton: Likud-Beiteinu, Yesh Atid, and HaBayit HaYehudi:
Sources in Bayit Yehudi said they had managed to alleviate some of the harsher strictures that Yesh Atid had sought in the agreement, and had even improved the standing of yeshivas in some ways. Among those accomplishments, party sources said, was the recognition by the state for the first time of the importance of Torah study.

The coalition agreement will read “the State of Israel recognizes the importance and centrality of Torah study as a central value of the Jewish people and the State of Israel.” Students who do receive exemptions will be receiving them as Torah students upholding these values, as opposed to receiving them for “academic excellence,” as Yesh Atid had sought to have them termed.

In addition, the draft of yeshiva students will begin at age 21, instead of age 18 – giving students an automatic deferment of three years. At that point, they will have to serve two years, like all other Israelis, as the coalition agreement calls for an eventual reduction of service for all Israelis to two years, instead of the current three years.

The reduction in service for all will be possible as a result of the extra manpower the army will have with the inclusion of hareidi yeshiva students. The army will significantly increase the number of Nachal Hareidi units to accommodate the new recruits. A wide-ranging plan for the drafting of women that Lapid had sought was also shelved, Bayit Yehudi said.

Yeshiva students who refuse to appear for military service will not be criminally charged, as had been planned. Instead they will be subject to economic sanctions, losing virtually all government support. Party officials said that this aspect of the agreement would avoid the “doomsday” scenarios hareidi political leaders portrayed of jack-booted military police marching into yeshiva study halls and pulling students away from their Talmud folios. No arrests will be made in yeshivas, the deal specifies.

The number of students who will be exempted for Torah study will be 1,800, far more than the 400 Lapid had suggested. The plan will take effect only in 2017, and students who are beyond enlistment age up until that time will not be “grandfathered” into the arrangement.

The article does not tell us if the plan has anything to say about the drafting of Arabs. Neither does it inform us of what will be the status of the various Hesder programs under this plan. Is the 1,800 exemptions per student-year, or is it the grand total? (I think that it is the grand total.) How will it be decided who gets these exemptions? Can you imagine what kind of Hareidi infighting this could cause?

If this plan goes into effect, what will the reaction of the ultra-Orthodox? Since the plan apparently does not talk about drafting Arabs, I imagine that the Hareidim will take their case to the High Court of Justice, saying that the plan is discriminatory. I do not expect the court to help them, because drafting Hareidim has been on the secular agenda for so long. They will resort to their regular legal newspeak to sanction the law.

It is obvious that many Hareidim will forgo government benefits in order to avoid army service and to continue the way of life that they are accustomed to. What's more, since this is being done against their will of the Hareidi rabbis, many of special programs that exist today that are geared towards the ultra-Orthodox, such as “Bina B'Yarok”, may be shunned.

I also suspect that there are those who will choose to live abroad. The land of Israel is acquired through affliction, and not everybody is ready to pay the price.

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