IDF enlist universities to combat draft dodging
Some 1,500 draft evaders, deserters studying in institutes of higher education, enjoy partial government funding given to every student. Head of IDF's Human Resources Directorate wants 'absurd' situation mended, sends sharply worded letter to Council for Higher Education
IDF Human Resources Directorate chief Maj.-Gen. Orna Barbivai has sent a sharply worded letter to the Council for Higher Education (CHE) revealing the large amounts of money inadvertently invested in funding draft dodgers' education. The term is used to reference those considered missing or deserters that have failed to secure an exemption for IDF service.
According to data, some 1,500 youths have either defected or just not shown up for military service in the last five years. These numbers do not include those who received exemption due to either psychical or mental illness, but rather those who chose to ignore their draft orders.
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According to the IDF Human Resources Directorate's assessments, hundreds of such youths take advantage of their two to three years fore and enroll in academic studies. A situation the IDF deems absurd.
Like all undergraduate students in Israel's public universities and colleges, draft evaders enjoy a partial State subsidiary of their tuition, unknowingly funded by the Israeli taxpayer. Creating a situation where those unwilling to serve in the army enjoy governmental funding – funding intended to aid youths in completing their studies – all while there are arrests warrants pending against them.
"We were surprised to find out that there were (service) evaders learning in institutions of higher education while they're on the run from the army and law enforcement officials," Maj.-Gen. Barbivai wrote.
Barbivai called on the CHE to prevent the enrollment of such students in classes and force them to present either a record of service or a legal exemption before their registration is accepted.
"We cannot accept a reality in which draft dodgers are studying quietly whilst committing an offense and enjoying public funds; all the while their peers are fulfilling their national duty and carrying the weight of a defense service.
"I think it is appropriate that those institutes of higher education who have yet to do so move to decide not to accept anyone who fails to either complete their military service or prove a legal exemption from it," Maj.-Gen. Orna Barbivai wrote.
Insiders return a pointing finger at the IDF, and claim that the army – and not the academia – is in charge of enforcing the law. "The IDF has draft dodgers, and the university should take responsibly for them?" a source involved in the issue rhetorically asked.
"The IDF is supposed to know who is a draft dodger and send Military Police to arrest them. It is an army matter, not an academic one."
Additional sources added that should Maj.-Gen. Barbivai's request be granted it could create issues for the numerous Arab and haredi students enrolled in universities but not serving in the IDF.
In response, the CHE said in a statement that "the IDF Human Resources Directorate's head's letter has been received and we are currently learning the subject."
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