On the Edge

Soldiers in the IDF
Soldiers serving in the IDF

On the edge.

Right now, we’re on the edge of fighting in Rafah. And of a war with Lebanon. And of an escalation with Iran. And of massive civil unrest. And of another massive call-up of reservists. And of the fall of the government.

Our Unity is a Matter of Life or Death

Yet our unity cannot be achieved without a shift in feeling among Israelis of all sectors that the national security burden is being shared more equally.

“Shivyon Banetel”- an equal sharing of the security burden – should be the next step.

These are some of the thoughts that drove me to join Rivon Harevii, a growing grass-roots movement aiming to take the poison out of our public discourse.

Compromise is Always Painful

The Rivon believes we need to replace what they are calling “politics of submission” with a political culture of “Hachnasat Orchim” – more akin to how we host guests in our homes. The idea is that we might disagree with a guest, we might dislike their beliefs, we might even find them objectionable – but we are determined to look after their fundamental needs anyway.

To come up with a solution to the issue of “Shivyon Banetel,” the Rivon set up a series of 4 dialogue sessions between a group of army reservists and a group of Haredi activists. The goal: Outlining a program that resolves the thorny issue of the Haredi draft in a way that both sides can live with.

We Can Resolve the Haredi Draft through Mutual Respect

At the end of four sessions of intense, heated dialogue, the participants in the dialogue group had done it: They outlined a compromise none of them liked, but they could all live with.

Here’s a 4-point summary of what was agreed. You can read the full agreement here.

POINT 1: Developing a national program that’s unprecedented in scope for compensating everyone who serves in the military.

POINT 2: Gradual increase in the scope of military service of the Haredi population, in both the regular (“Sadir”) and the reservist (“Miluim”) service.

Regular service (“Sadir”):

  • 30% draft of people ages 18 to 24 who are not studying full time in yeshiva, within 2 years. For the remaining Haredi population that is required to draft, the deferral will be for a maximum of 5 years.
  • Now: voluntary draft. In two years: obligatory draft.
  • In two years: personal financial sanctions (cancellation of state stipends and benefits), reduction of the funding for Torah institutions.
  • Disconnecting the current dependence on institutions of study in order to implement the draft – i.e., there will be a direct connection between the army and those who are being drafted.
  • Drafting into regular (“Sadir”) military service cannot be deferred beyond the age of 24.

Reserve service (“Miluim”):

  • Gradual increase in the number of Haredim drafting into a dedicated reserve service program (Shlav Bet); and their being trained for combat and field unit positions.
  • In two years, Haredim who are exempted from regular service who are not studying Torah full time will be required to do reserve duty.

POINT 3: Approximately 30% of those required to do army service who are studying Torah full time will receive a permanent exemption from military service. The goal: within 5 years, 70% of Haredi men will be part of the military framework in Sadir and Miluim, according to the army’s needs.

POINT 4: Establishment of a dedicated branch of the army to support the Haredi military service, expansion of the current frameworks and the provision of dedicated service tracks for Haredim.

Israel Needs a Larger, Representative, and Strong Army

Our internal fighting and hatred, to my mind, opened a door on October 7 that our worst enemies walked right through. We don’t want our differences to continue to weaken us.

The Rivon Harevii is focused broadly on strengthening national unity and, in this case specifically, on resolving the Haredi draft issue without breaking us and moving us further apart from each other. The goal is to improve the capabilities of the army and right a societal wrong, not to destroy the Haredi way of life.

Bottom line: Finding a way forward out of mutual respect is our only way.

About the Author
Aliza Israel made Aliyah 30 years ago from the US. A marketing writer for the technology sector, she lives in Alon Shvut with her husband Alex and their children.
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