Esor Ben-Sorek

A Nation Afraid To Take Chances of Change

Believe it or not, somehow we managed to submit to a change in our political system, something unheard of for more than a decade.

In our last election we succeeded in cleaning the mansion on Balfour street in Jerusalem of its odorous tenants, an indicted prime minister and his family, and we replaced the mansion with a new prime minister, leader of Israel’s largest coalition from several segments of our unhealthy political system.

We made a change and it has so far succeeded. It was a major victory in a proof that our nation is not afraid to take a chance of change.

Now voices are being heard, not only in the government quarters but also on the streets across Israel. The voices are debating on changes in the IDF. Should it remain as its status is and has been since 1948 or should it be re-created into a professional armed force?

Why is it necessary to change what has been our pride and joy for almost 74 years?

But maintaining the IDF as it presently is could be healthier to our nation if certain specific changes are made.

I agree that not every citizen has the strength, stamina, and dedication to support our country in terms of military service.

Proposals have been suggested… good proposals… which can serve our country faithfully and at the same time offer young men and women alternatives to military service if reasons can be justified.

The ultra-Orthodox Jewish population has sadly denounced military service. They have chosen to serve God in the yeshivot rather than to serve the nation on military bases.

For them, mandatory enrollment in civil service will meet the needs both of their religious devotion and their duty to do service to the nation. Civil service opportunities can be placed in separation between males and females and will give the ultra-Orthodox haredim the feeling of performing mitzvot.

Arab citizens, (with the exception of wonderful Druze and Circassian young men and a smaller number of Beduin troops) are exempt from military service for understandable reasons.

Therefore, Arab citizens who will not enter military service must be required to perform their duties to the State through some form of civil service in accordance with their abilities and activities.

With these proposals it is now clear to all of us that every citizen of Israel, Jewish or non-Jewish, ultra-Orthodox or secular or practicioner of modern Judaism can and now must be required to serve the country which provides for all their needs by requiring a choice of military or civil service.

Those who stubbornly refuse must be penalized. I propose two forms of the penalties.

Any citizen of Israel who refuses to do military or civil service should have free health services denied. The cost for private medical care is so high that a loss of free health care will be an incentive to those individuals to commit to military or civil service duties.

A second penalty…. No university in Israel should accept for admission to any prospective applicant who cannot provide official proof as evidence of completed military or civil service duties.

The penalties may appear to be harsh but they are necessary for the unity and equality of every citizen of Israel who is obligated to demonstrate loyalty to the State in one of the two choices available to him/her.

Nothing is free. We all have to pay a price. And the price for being a citizen of the State of Israel must be a demonstration of loyalty in service to the State and to all of its citizens.

We must no longer remain a nation afraid to take chances with change. Hopefully, our Knesset will find the strength to approve a change for unity among all.

V’im lo achshav, aimatai? And if not now….. when ?

About the Author
Esor Ben-Sorek is a retired professor of Hebrew, Biblical literature & history of Israel. Conversant in 8 languages: Hebrew, Yiddish, English, French, German, Spanish, Polish & Dutch. Very proud of being an Israeli citizen. A follower of Trumpeldor & Jabotinsky & Begin.
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