Dear Mr. and/or Mrs. Israeli Person,
If you are reading this letter, that means you are fed up with the current state of affairs in the Jewish state. I know I am! That’s why I am here to tell you about my fantastic idea that’s gonna save Israel, and heck, while I’m at it, the world!
Now, I know what you are thinking. “Nate,” you say “much wiser people tried fixing the IDF and failed. What makes you so sure that you, a new immigrant, with only a rudimentary grasp of the Hebrew language, and an admittedly impressive collection of Nintendo consoles, could possibly fix the IDF, Israeli society, and even the world? Tell us, you handsome bastard!” First of all, thank you, but my Nintendo collection is modest at best, and more importantly, because I’m a smart guy (who is incredibly modest to boot), and I have a brilliant idea.
Recently, the elections happened, and the Zehut party wanted to see the creation of a professional army here. Sure, I voted for Zehut, but I’m not quite sure we are ready for that just yet. I’m not sure monetary compensation will encourage enough Jews to draft on their own. But, we should do something very similar: make it so you have to register for the draft, like in America.
Let me explain. In the United States, you don’t get “drafted”. You “register for the draft”. The difference is subtle, but it is there. In the US, after you are done with high school, and you wish to go to college, you go to the American government and ask for money. The government then tells you “Sure thing, just be ready to answer the call of duty”. Fun fact: when feminism was becoming a thing in the US, an overwhelming majority of the women didn’t want to vote because at the time, it would require them to register for the draft, which wasn’t popular for very obvious reasons. It has since changed there, but it may be just what we need across the pond.
You see, in Israel, we have many different groups, and each contributes to society in different ways. The secular and national religious communities contribute by sending their sons into battle, the Ultra-Orthodox contribute by not contributing in any meaningful way, and the Arabs contribute… by also not contributing in any meaningful way. But we all get the same right to vote. That to me seems incorrect.
“Nate,” you say again, struggling to find the right way to address such a great idea “but voting is a fundamental right in a democracy. How could you make it contingent on a draft?” Thank you for asking, dear reader, but you have it exactly backward. The goal of Israel is to create a Jewish state where Jews can live freely in their own homeland. Voting is simply one of many mechanisms which we use to apply that freedom. But voting in it of itself is not a right, nor does it always promote freedom. When people who don’t vote in a free manner vote, they vote us all back into slavery. Let’s put it this way: if I could promote freedom by installing myself as dictator for life and taking away voting forever, I would do it in a heartbeat. Granted, that won’t happen, in part because I just want to be left alone, but it is the idea that matters.
In most democracies, the right to vote is not contingent on the draft. I think it is a shame that you shouldn’t need to have a stake in your society in order to vote, but it is especially important in Israel, where we need everyone to perform their civic duty and serve. So to those who would say I am taking away rights, I say that I am simply asking the people who like to perform their civic duty when it allows them to lord over their fellow citizens to also do so when it is a waste of three years of their lives. I think that is a fair compromise.
Here is how it would work: upon reaching the age of eighteen, you are allowed to register for the draft. Until you do so, you do not have the right to continue receiving government benefits such as health insurance, vote, hold public office, or own a weapon, among other things. Once you register, you get called to the Lishkat HaGiyus, where the army can decide if you draft to combat, job, national service, or receive an exemption. No matter what the army says, you are now a full member of Israeli society. But let’s say you don’t want to register? Maybe you are a secular peacenik, who abhors the IDF? Or maybe you are a nice Hareidi child who wants to learn Toyrah all day and has no time for politics? Or maybe you are technically Israeli, but grew up in another country and are not interested in drafting? Not to fear, nothing happens to you! We don’t waste time chasing after hippies, throwing foreigners in prison, or getting involved with Hareidi victim-playing! You can live your silly lifestyle, and it will have no effect on me or my kids, who will serve in the army and do their civic duty.
This solves several issues. One is that the Hareidim will be forced to choose between contributing to Israeli society or keeping their current lifestyle. They can either have political power or live untainted by the modern world, but not both.
The second is that the Israeli Arabs will also need to make a choice. They will either need to begin viewing themselves as Israelis and make our concerns their own, or Ahmed Tibi might find himself out of a job. Either way, I like the results.
The third is that the IDF will need to find useless parts of the army to shutdown, because they will not have infinite access to every Israeli teenager. They will have to focus on the one thing that armies are supposed to do, which is take names and kick ass.
The fourth (which is actually connected to the second one) is that the demographics all of sudden don’t matter. After all, what self-respecting Arab citizen of the PA will want to draft to the IDF, should Israel annex Judea and Samaria? No, I reckon they will do as they always did, which is blow raspberries at the Israelis and try to kill us. Fine by me, but at least they don’t get to ruin my democracy in the meantime.
And the fifth is that all of a sudden, you get unity in Israel. A lot of issues in our society boil down to different communities hating each other for various reasons. No more. Now, drafting can be the pathway for an individual, and not a community. Now, when a soldier drafts, he knows he is not being played for a sucker, and that he has a tangible lead on his peers who aren’t drafting. As I learned in the army “B’Shvil Kavod, Tzarich L’Avod”. Now, nobody can complain that they are being screwed over. Nobody is judging anybody anymore. There will be peace in our time and in our midst.
It is in hopes that somebody important will read this and call for necessary change. I really hope that this made you consider a new way of thinking, and maybe when this is all said and done, the Messiah will come, swiftly, in our times, Amen.
Nathan G. Fishman