"There cannot be a situation whereby only some of the people carry the burden. If you are a citizen in the State of Israel and you have rights, you should also have duties under the law," a social activist said Thursday amid the political crisis surrounding Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's decision to dissolve a committee that was tasked with drafting a universal IDF recruitment law.
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Eli Debi, whose brother Zadok was killed during Operation Litani in 1978, runs the non profit organization "Forever, Brother," which aims to provide a legal status for brothers and sisters of fallen soldiers.
"I have nothing against the ultra-Orthodox – they're just taking advantage of law," said Debi, who supports the "suckers" campaign to combat haredi draft-dodging.
"I am a traditional man and respect religion, but they cannot look at me while I carry the burden and laugh. Let's do it together. We have a country to build," he said.
The activists are scheduled to march Saturday night from the "suckers" encampment near the Arlozorov train station to the Tel Aviv Museum of Art, where they plan to hold a mass demonstration featuring performances by David Broza and Dana Berger, among other singers.
Ahead of the protest, activists have suggested a number of slogans, including "They ran from the Carmel fire disaster, and now they have sold us to (Shas Chairman) Eli Yishai."
Dov Lippman, a haredi from Beit Shemesh, said he will attend the rally. "The leaders of the ultra-Orthodox community are distorting the Torah when they say it does not allow us to serve in the army. There are many people who combine Torah studies with army service. This possibility exists," he said.
"If (some haredim) find it difficult to serve in the army, they can perform national service – but they refuse to this as well, and in doing so they are corrupting the Torah's values."
Lippman, who immigrated to Israel from the US in 2004 with his wife and their four children, said "I was not given the opportunity to serve, but my son, who is 15 and studies Torah, will serve in the army. He wants to be a paratrooper."
The Plesner Committee, which Netanyahu disbanded, found that the State should follow a strict set of supra-principles regarding universal draft, including:
- Imposing the principle of universal service on all Israeli citizens.
- Imposing individual liability on anyone trying to evade the service.
- Offering those serving in the IDF incentives and increased compensation.
- Formulating an effective enforcement system against those violating draft directives.
- Mandating the draft of ultra-Orthodox men.
- Applying the principle of universal service to the Arab sector via National Service opportunities.
Yakov Biton, a haredi from Jerusalem, enlisted in the IDF at the age of 19 and served three years, including one year in a haredi combat unit. "The ultra-Orthodox public is becoming more and more integrated in Israeli society, and if a decade from now haredim will not be fully integrated in the army and the job market, our situation will be bad," he said. "We (haredi soldiers) thwarted terror attacks, so as far as I'm concerned, we're protecting the homeland."
The Kibbutz Movement recently threw its support behind the suckers' campaign, and its members are expected to take part in Saturday's rally.
Activist Idan Miller said he expects thousands of people to participate. "On Saturday we are returning to the streets to tell the prime minister to reconsider his alliance with the haredim, which comes at our expense – at the expense of the State of Israel's interests.
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