Saturday October 25, 2014
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25.10.2014
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Shas enlists Bennett's rabbis to prevent Lapid partnership
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Yossi Beilin

What's good for the goose

Already on the first day of coalition negotiations, the issue of equal burden in the military, touted by Yair Lapid's Yesh Atid party, turned out to be the main bone of contention in these discussions. It would be wrong for the two sides to reach a compromise on the number of yeshiva students who will receive exemptions or "deferrment of service" now, or in five years. There is a simple, easy and cost effective way to deal with the problem, without bringing the parties to unnecessary confrontations.

Here is the solution: In the Defense Service Law of 1986, article 39, it is stated that, "a female person of military age who has proven, in such a manner and to such an authority as shall be prescribed by regulations, that reasons of conscience or reasons connected with her family's religious way of life prevent her from serving in defence service shall be exempt from the duty of that service."

This text can be changed so that it can include men, as well as women, and Zion can be redeemed. No ultra-Orthodox man will pursue yeshiva studies just to earn an exemption from military service; anyone who wants to continue studying will do so, and anyone who doesn't want to can learn core subjects outside of the religious curriculum and begin working and paying taxes. It is quite possible that some of those men who exercise their exemption at age 18 will choose to serve later, when they begin to understand that Israeli society expects all of its healthy citizens to serve in the army.

The state will have to support those men studying in yeshiva far less, and thus it will gain the tax payments of new employees; the economy will benefit from another important workforce. Also, it won't be necessary to establish an expensive institution for national or civilian service, which will also likely be cumbersome and artificial, and both of which are likely to adversely affect the wages of unskilled occupations.

Since the exemption request will be made to the government, and not the army, a year before recruitment to the yeshivas, the military can make conclusions as to whether the exemption application is being abused. If it finds that it is being abused, it can ask the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee to make recruitment criteria more stringent.

Think about it.

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