Ari Kalker
We cannot see the future, but we can shape it!

A rational plan fo Haredi enlistment

The foundational argument of Haredi military service is one of integration and separation.  Haredi society views itself as separate from but deserving of society’s support. The rest of the country seriously questions whether they are so deserving of our valued support.  While I do not believe anyone will ever convince the Haredi world to completely integrate, we can make our continued financial support dependent on more integration.

The following plan aims to tackle the issue of Haredi integration by breaking the financial control its leadership and institutions have over them. (As a by-product, it prompts a reevaluation of our entire incentive structure of support towards the Muslim citizens of Israel.)

First, we have to answer the practical question of how to go about drafting the Haredim.  I believe they should be treated like every other Jewish citizen of the State of Israel. At age 17, they are invited to an initial pre-screening at the local draft office. Just like everyone else, they should be required to show up and be screened. Most likely a very high percentage of them will be found unfit for service, at which point they will be freed of any military burden and under my plan any governmental financial support.

Those who are deemed fit to serve can be placed in any of the many service frameworks already in existence and the new ones already being formed. In my plan, new Haredi hesder yeshivot will also be formed, hopefully, the first of many, creating yet another framework for their service.

The financial structure of government support that currently exists in the Haredi world sees the budget flow from the government to the institution and then to the yeshiva student. This structure gives all the power to the institution and its leadership, which can withhold or divert all or part of the stipend from its students. I would have that replaced to have all forms of post-high school education, yeshiva included, recognized as institutions of higher education.  Then, all Haredi soldiers who complete their service can use their release bonus to pay tuition, much like those attending college or university.  In addition, I would stop all funding beyond that to all of the Haredi yeshivot.

In addition, the national financial structure should be made to reflect the quality and quantity of national service.  Here are just a few examples.

Higher education subsidies 

Currently, students pay 25% of the actual tuition costs out of pocket. That 25% is then additionally subsidized for released soldiers. Under my plan, there would be no automatic subsidy at all. The full 100% would be based on service by someone who served a full 3 years in a combat role. Such soldiers will have 100% of their future tuition paid by the government, whether that tuition be at university or yeshiva.

Child stipends 

Currently, every citizen gets a monthly stipend based on the number of children they have under 18. This stipend is paid directly by the national insurance. Under my plan, the full stipend would be based on the joint time served by both parents. As long as the two parents combined have a full three years of service between them, they would qualify for the full payment.

Government Service Fees 

This includes car registration, driver’s license, company registration, teudot renewal, passports, and many other service fees. All fees should be doubled and then a 60% discount should be given to anyone who has completed a full three years of service. Fees paid between the ages of 18 and 25 should have a mechanism set up where the lower fee is paid and then collected later if full service is not completed.

Under my plan, we create a more balanced “sharing of the burden” and encourage national service without forcing anyone to give up their way of life.  We also reset our national priorities, incentivizing and rewarding those who serve.

About the Author
Ari made aliyah after completing high school in NY, served as an infantry soldier in the IDF, and continues to serve in the reserves. He worked for many years with lone soldiers and promoting Zionist education. As a contractor Ari fullfils his passion of building the land of Israel everyday.
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