|Agam Rodberg (R) and Roni Duani. Served in the army Photo: Rafi Deloya|
Celebrities' commando unit
IDF working on 'easy' service program for young artists in bid to fight draft dodging
After the special service program for exceptional athletes and gifted musicians, the IDF has begun working on a similar program for exceptional celebrities.
Athletes and musicians recognized by the army as highly talented are given the possibility of enlisting to an "easy" military service, which enables them to continue training and practicing while serving in the IDF.
This week, the IDF Personnel Directorate decided to launch a similar program for artists in the field of "light entertainment."
The new plan was created in a bid to deal with the growing rate of draft dodging, which has recently reached 25% of all youth. One of the main problems identified by the officers was the shirking of military duty by the teenagers' role models, particularly young artists who have chosen not to serve in the army in order to pursue their career.
"We must make an effort to enlist the public opinion leaders," a senior officer said Monday.
"We see 18-year-olds at the peak of their professional career. They can still contribute, and we have no intention of giving up on them," said another senior officer at the IDF's Personnel Directorate.
"Just like we have been letting exceptional athletes and gifted musicians serve under conditions suitable to the army, which do not harm their career, we should do the same with those young artists."
As part of the administrative work, formed by the IDF's head of manpower, Colonel Tziki Sela, a committee comprised by professionals from the relevant fields will examine each case individually.
Among the celebrities who will be able to apply for the special program are models, television presenters and soap opera actors. The IDF will set a limited quota for the number of celebrities entitled to serve as part of the special program, and those who will not be accepted will be sent to regular military service.
"We realize that not all soldiers can serve with the Golani Brigade, but there is no reason for those who can perform on stages not to do so in front of Golani troops on the Gaza border," said a senior officer at the IDF's Personnel Directorate.
According to the officer, the desired model is celebrities like Roni Duani, Agam Rodberg and Tom Avni, who served in the army, and this did not interfere with the development of their career.
According to the senior officer, the three artists received all the days of leave they needed in order to perform on television programs and entertainment stages.
"The army does not ruin careers. This is a lame excuse used by people trying to dodge the draft," the officer said. "These artists are not exempted and we will find a unique service program for them. It is important for us to see them serve because of the influence they have on teenagers."
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