The plan submitted by the IDF this week was far more dramatic than the strike in Syria. For the first time since it was declared the "People's Army" in 1948, the IDF has recommended a series of steps that will gradually transform it into a professional army.
In the name of equal share of the national burden, the army is advancing a game-changing plan, according to which men and women will serve an equal amount of time. From a strictly feminist perspective, this is fine. In Israel 2013 there is no reason why women should serve less than men. The problem is that jobniks (non-combatant soldiers), of both genders, will be released from the army four months before combat soldiers – and this poses a real threat to our social resilience and national security.
Four months is not a long time in civilian life, but it is a long time when you are a young soldier performing compulsory service. If compulsory service will be longer for soldiers in the in the Armored or Artillery Corps than for soldiers guarding the entrance to the Kirya army complex in Tel Aviv, the temptation to choose to serve in the Kirya will increase significantly.
If the plan is implemented, the poor will serve in combat units in order to receive a higher salary, while youngsters from affluent families will be able to dodge combat service with a clearer conscience. They will tell themselves: 'I earn less, therefore I serve less.' This will also make it easier for the haredim to evade combat service.
When the IDF shortens the term of compulsory army service for non-combatants, it loses its moral ability to demand that yeshiva students enlist. The ultra-Orthodox rabbis will say they were right when they claimed there is no real need, from a national security standpoint, to recruit their students to the army.
Knesset Member Yisrael Eichler has been speaking passionately in favor of a professional army for a long time, and now it turns out that the IDF itself support the idea. Currently the army is recommending "differential service," and down the road it will claim there is no choice but to cancel compulsory service altogether. There will always be a financial reason to justify jolting streamlining measures, and there will always be political backing for the dangerous idea of privatizing the security establishment. Instead of Israel Defense Forces we will get Israel Differential Forces. It is not at all certain this army will be able to protect us with the same efficiency.