Israel Vows To Draft Haredim, But Major Hurdles Remain

Fine Print and Timing Complicates Situation

Devil in the Details: Discontent over the Haredi exemption from military service contributed to Yair Lapid’s strong showing in the Israeli election. Still, any major changes could be years away.
Getty Images
Devil in the Details: Discontent over the Haredi exemption from military service contributed to Yair Lapid’s strong showing in the Israeli election. Still, any major changes could be years away.

By Nathan Jeffay

Published March 24, 2013, issue of March 29, 2013.
  • Print
  • Share Share
  • Single Page

(page 3 of 3)

Still, on this front, another practical hurdle remains: The Haredi education system places minimal emphasis on secular education, leaving many Haredi men unprepared to enter the workforce.

The new law addresses this concern, too, with funds to raise the education level of Haredim who are being exempted, in order to make them employable. Shelah said that hundreds of millions of shekels will be invested toward this goal.

“We’re talking about tens of thousands of people who are incapable of obtaining gainful employment right now, so we have a national project of giving them the opportunity to get work,” he said. Shelah admitted that the cost will be high, but he said that “the alternative is to keep just spending on people who don’t work.”

While supporters of Haredi conscription may be cautious about the promised law’s prospects to deliver reform, Haredi political leaders are unambiguous, and apoplectic. During the government’s March 18 inauguration, Moshe Gafni, of the Haredi United Torah Judaism faction, shredded a copy of the coalition agreement on the Knesset floor, calling it a “white paper against the Haredi community.”

The term “white paper” crackles with emotion in Israel, as it evokes memory of the 1939 British document of that name setting strict limits on Jewish immigration to Palestine despite the need of Jews for a refuge from the Holocaust. Haredim were offended by their exclusion from the government coalition — the first such exclusion in almost two decades — and to the prominence given to the draft in the coalition agreement.

The provision’s survival in the governing coalition agreement reflected Yesh Atid’s decision to stand firm on its position through a long series of complex negotiations. The party was helped by a pact with the Orthodox-Zionist party Jewish Home, under which the two factions agreed to enter the coalition only as a pair, with a draft guarantee, and without Haredi parties.

“This is a national problem being solved — a problem of values and a problem of economics,” said Shelah.

Contact Nathan Jeffay at jeffay@forward.com


The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.





Find us on Facebook!
  • Happy birthday Barbra Streisand! Our favorite Funny Girl turns 72 today.
  • Clueless parenting advice from the star of "Clueless."
  • Why won't the city give an answer?
  • BREAKING NEWS: Israel has officially suspended peace talks with the Palestinians.
  • Can you guess what the most boring job in the army is?
  • What the foolish rabbi of Chelm teaches us about Israel and the Palestinian unity deal:
  • Mazel tov to Idina Menzel on making Variety "Power of Women" cover! http://jd.fo/f3Mms
  • "How much should I expect him and/or ask him to participate? Is it enough to have one parent reciting the prayers and observing the holidays?" What do you think?
  • New York and Montreal have been at odds for far too long. Stop the bagel wars, sign our bagel peace treaty!
  • Really, can you blame them?
  • “How I Stopped Hating Women of the Wall and Started Talking to My Mother.” Will you see it?
  • Taglit-Birthright Israel is redefining who they consider "Jewish" after a 17% drop in registration from 2011-2013. Is the "propaganda tag" keeping young people away?
  • Happy birthday William Shakespeare! Turns out, the Bard knew quite a bit about Jews.
  • Would you get to know racists on a first-name basis if you thought it might help you prevent them from going on rampages, like the recent shooting in Kansas City?
  • "You wouldn’t send someone for a math test without teaching them math." Why is sex ed still so taboo among religious Jews?
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.