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Offbeat Israel: A College Reference Contingent on Joining the IDF

Want a reference from your teacher? Then enlist in the army.

There’s deep concern in the IDF about draft dodging, with the figure of army-age males avoiding compulsory military service nearing a third. Of recent, there have been several unusual moves to stem the trend. One was an advertising campaign harnessing the power of sex appeal, as discussed in this Forward article. Then the Interior Ministry began exploring the option of withholding passports in the case of draft dodging — see this Haaretz article.

Now teachers are getting involved.

At Iron Chet, a religious boys’ school in Tel Aviv, the percentage of students obeying their conscription orders stands at 96 — up from 75 in 2006. The school has been doing a hard sell to students on the importance of serving their country. It has also started to withhold benefits to those approaching the end of their school careers, but not yet signed up. For them there’s no place in the graduation ceremony, just a certificate in the mail. They don’t get letters of recommendation for further study and they’re not welcome to return to the school to visit. It will be interesting to see whether this kind of thing spreads to other schools and whether, if it gets the back up of some students, it become the subject of a legal challenge.


Herziliya, the NIMBY capital of Israel, is up in arms. The wealthy seaside town is to continue to play host to an airport. The municipality, backed by residents, is desperate to have it closed down, but the National Council for Planning and Construction has rejected the petition to do so. Herziliya, heavily populated by top-level businessmen and diplomats, probably counts the country’s most frequent fliers among its residents. But they are concerned that the airport is noisy and lowers the value of their homes.

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