Steinitz. Sever ties between army, work
Photo: Yossi Zamir
Zamir. People's army in jeopardy
Photo: Dudu Azoulay

IDF opposes exemption program for haredi fathers

Finance Ministry unveils plan to provide haredi men over age of 22 with two kids with exemption from military service, however IDF personnel chief not too keen, warning collapse of 'people's army'

Elements in the Israel Defense Forces are not keen on a new Finance Ministry program which would provide an automatic draft exemption for haredi men over the age of 22 with two or more children. The plan is aimed at enabling ultra-Orthodox men to join the work force, however IDF Personnel Directorate chief Major-General Avi Zamir said it may have far reaching implications for the IDF.


"Currently 50% of the population do not serve in the military and are expected to reach 60% within a decade. This may cause the collapse of the people's army model and without a people's army our military will be much less accomplished and far more expensive," Zamir said during an Israel Democracy Institute conference in Caesarea.


"Today we witness a process of haredi integration in the IDF," Zamir added. "There are currently three options for haredim: The haredi Nahal, which is the largest IDF battalion; the Shahar course in which the ultra-Orthodox serve as software engineers and in other professions; and a new course will qualify haredim in technical professions."


The personnel chief stressed that haredi recruitment would benefit the Israeli economy. "Employers look differently at a haredi man who served in the military. Within a decade if the half the haredim enlist, the economy would gain NIS 10 billion. This process must not be stopped."


'Economy needs them more'

The Finance Ministry's program would mainly benefit new immigrants and haredi men who have postponed their enlistment under the Tal Law.


Finance Minister Yuval Steinitz, who unveiled the plan in the Caesarea Forum on Wednesday, explained its significance: "It is indeed irritating that I served in Golani and the haredim don't, but the IDF can manage without them, whereas the economy cannot."


Steinitz added, "In the 1950s the State said 'no army, no work' but today we must sever that tie. I wish Arabs would enlist too, but currently it is more urgent that everyone join the work force. It is an absurdity that haredim start working at 40 when they no longer need to enlist. At that stage, it's work without experience and skills, which contributes little to their livelihood or Israel's economy."


פרסום ראשון: 06.16.10, 15:35
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