Op-ed: Court’s decision to strike down law allowing mass ultra-Orthodox exemptions from military service is an important milestone against political cynicism in which a minority repeatedly prevents State of Israel from being a slightly more decent and civilized country.
This is a day of celebration for most Israelis. It’s not that the problem has been resolved. It’s not that a new dawn of equality in sharing the burden of IDF service is about the break tomorrow morning. We still have a long way to go, a very long way.
ut the High Court ruling is an important milestone against the cynicism in which an ultra-Orthodox minority repeatedly prevents the State of Israel from being a slightly more decent and civilized country.
We should remember the affair began with an insignificant, tolerable exemption of a few hundred yeshiva students in the David Ben-Gurion era. But the exemption intensified. It went beyond any acceptable limit. The percentage of Haredim exempted from military service kept growing. It’s not that the process can’t be stopped. The previous government passed a law which began—just began—to deal with this disease and the damage it has caused.
Haredim outside IDF recruitment center. In the not-so-distant future, nearly 50 percent of Israelis will be exempted from military service (Photo: Ofer Amram)
The Haredi draft, also known as “equality in sharing the burden” of IDF service, is just part of a much bigger problem. Nearly one-quarter of first graders today belong to the Haredi sector. This means that in the not-so-distant future, they won’t enlist. If we add the Arab sector to the equation, the result is that nearly 50 percent of Israelis will be exempted from military service. That’s an intolerable situation.
What makes this whole issue even worse is the fact it’s part of a much more troubling package deal: those who don’t enlist also skip core curriculum studies, receive huge allowances and vanish from the labor market.
Things began changing in the previous government, but like with the Western Wall and conversion crises, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is willing to give the Haredim everything, ignoring the fact that even if he didn’t give them anything—they would have no other option.
This is causing serious, gradual damage to the national interest. Instead of a democracy, we are getting a minocracy. There’s a majority both among the public and in the Knesset for equally sharing the burden of military service, for core studies, for encouraging integration into the labor market. But who cares about the majority and who cares about the national interest when concessions are being made without a second thought.
In a normal state of affairs, the High Court of Justice shouldn’t intervene. Overturning laws and overturning cabinet decisions should be used as an emergency weapon and only in rare cases. There have been too many times in which the High Court’s intervention was irritating and unnecessary. Not this time.
The ruling is justified for two reasons: First of all, because waiving an equal share of the civic duty is unconstitutional and undemocratic, and although we have gotten used to it, it crosses a red line. Second, unlike precedents in which the High Court ruled in favor of a minority while crushing the majority’s will, this time the High Court ruled in favor of the majority and became the public’s servant against political cynicism.
It’s unclear whether Tuesday’s ruling will lead to a change. The destructive coalition majority, in which Knesset members vote against their personal views, will likely persist. But the public aversion will grow accordingly. It joins the aversion over the conversion legislation empowering the Haredim and the decision to nix a planned egalitarian prayer section at the Western Wall.
All it takes right now is six or seven lawmakers from the Kulanu and Yisrael Beytenu parties to do exactly what they promised their voters regarding these issues. They can erase the disgrace. They have to. The High Court ruling offers them another chance. For our sake, for the sake of the national interest, they should seize the opportunity. The ball is in their court.
The UN Security Council. Photo: Twitter.
American recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital should serve as a “reality check” for the Palestinians, the Jewish state’s UN envoy said on Friday, ahead of the start of a special Security Council session on the issue.
“President Trump’s declaration marks a milestone — for Israel, for peace and for the world,” Ambassador Danny Danon said.
The Palestinians, Danon further noted, “can choose violence as they have always done, or they can choose to join us at the negotiating table.”
“The Security Council must send a clear message that there is never an excuse for violence,” he declared. “Violence must never be used as a threat.”
The UN agency is currently dominated by the most oppressive regimes on education and culture. There is China, which recently let writer, poet and Nobel Peace Prize winner Liu Xiaobo die an agonizing death in prison, where he was serving an 11-year jail sentence for his support of human rights and democracy.
Then there is Iran, where a dean of journalism, Siamak Pourzand, committed suicide to avoid more persecution by the regime.”UNESCO has been hijacked and abused as a tool for the persecution of Israel and the Jewish people, while concocting fake facts and fake history, meant to… rewrite global history.” — Carmel Shama Hacohen, Israel’s ambassador to UNESCO.
Prague Old Town Square, Czech Republic. (Shutterstock)
In a sign of Biblical prophecy that the nations will gaze upon a unified Jerusalem with joy, and following US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital Wednesday night, the Czech Republic has said that it also recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of the Jewish state.
“The Czech Republic currently, before the peace between Israel and Palestine is signed, recognizes Jerusalem to be in fact the capital of Israel in the borders of the demarcation line from 1967,” said a statement issued by the Czech foreign ministry.
A Palestinian protester holds stones during clashes with Israeli troops as Palestinians call for a “day of rage” in response to US President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, Bethlehem, West Bank, Dec. 8, 2017.
The next few days will show whether the Palestinian Authority (PA) is headed toward the kind of chaos that could result in the collapse of Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas’ government, or whether the Palestinians will manage to contain their outrage over President Donald Trump’s announcement that he recognizes Jerusalem as the capital of Israel.
Afghan protesters shout slogans during a protest againstÊU.S. President Donald Trump’s recognition of Jerusalem as Israel’s capital, in Kabul, Afghanistan December 8, 2017. (photo credit: OMAR SCOBHANI / REUTERS)
JERUSALEM – Thousands of Palestinians protested in a “day of rage” on Friday in the West Bank, Gaza and in east Jerusalem against US President Donald Trump’s recognition of the ancient city as Israel’s capital.
Across the Arab and Muslim worlds, thousands of demonstrators took to the streets on Friday, the Muslim holy day, expressing solidarity with the Palestinians and outrage at the US move.
The real national camp—and no, I’m not referring to Likud but to the camp pursuing a Jewish, democratic and incorrupt state—has an actual chance of returning to power.
About one-third of Likud voters are presumably fed up with Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s way. It’s true that he’s made achievements. It’s true that the attacks on him were often vile, exaggerated hypocritical and filled with lies, mistakes, and manipulations. But no more. What could have been argued two or three or five years ago, quite rightfully, can no longer be argued today. Something has changed..
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The New York Times published the Palestinian response to an alleged Saudi peace plan. Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman reportedly presented it to PLO chief and Palestinian Authority chairman Mahmoud Abbas last month.
According to the Times’ report, Mohammed told Abbas he has two months to either accept the Saudi proposal or leave office to make way for a new Palestinian leader who will accept it.
Israel is celebrating the fortieth anniversary of the historic visit of Egyptian president Anwar Sadat to Jerusalem, that led to the Egyptian-Israeli peace treaty. The move by Egypt, the largest and strongest Arab state, changed the dynamics of the Arab-Israeli conflict.
Sadat violated the Arab taboo against good neighborly relations with the Jewish state and opened the way for additional peace agreements. The defection of Egypt from the Arab military coalition eliminated the option of a two-front conventional war against Israel and saved the Israeli taxpayer billions of dollars. The heavy price paid by Israel to Egypt was total withdrawal from the Sinai and removal of settlements. But, in retrospect, it worked out well, turning Israel into “the land had peace
Islamic world more than fifty years ago, when I became fascinated by the classes taught by my Arabic teacher, the late Dov Iron, in Tel Aviv’s Zeitleen high school. From the very first class in early September 1066, I realized that we are being exposed to a culture that differs in every respect from the one upon which I was raised. I realized that the Arabic language is the key to a whole new world, one that thinks, feels and behaves in a way that must be studied perceptively in order to be understood.