10:40 IL: It is important to point out that the recommendations announced a short time ago by MK (Kadima) Yochanan Plesner are his alone, a personal recommendation and not that of the Plesner Committee which was dissolved by Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu. As such, Plesner is the only signature on the document announced at a live press conference shortly after 10:00am Israel time. The media event was carried live on Israel Radio as well.
Plesner explained that in actuality this effort began some 20 years ago while serving as a combat soldier, describing that when he arrived at a central bus station he saw many youths, health young people who were not serving. His words were interrupted by MK (Ichud HaLeumi) Dr. Michael Ben-Ari who asked “What about the Arabs. Why aren’t they in the picture? Why is the committee prejudiced and discriminatory? Why can’t Arabs serve in the military and/or national service?”
Officials instructed Ben-Ari to maintain decorum or he would be compelled to leave the event.
Plesner explained the mandate of the committee, the responsibility of formulating a law that would address the matter of a military draft and while some of the members of the committee bailed out before the work was done, “I remained as was my responsibility” explained Plesner.
“What about the Arabs? I too served in the IDF? What about them? Why is the committee ignoring their responsibility” questioned Ben-Ari, who received a final warning to stop interrupting or be ousted from the event.
Plesner continued with a brief overview of the threats facing Israel today and the need to act towards “sharing the burden” and this is the “basis for social justice” and it must be addressed “while this historic opportunity exists”.
It should be pointed out that Kadima leader Deputy Prime Minister Shaul Mofaz is not seated aside Plesner, which according to many indicates the approximately 100-page document is that of Plesner alone and not the government committee, which lost its mandate. Nevertheless, Mofaz announced on Tuesday, 13 Tammuz 5772 that if Plesner’s recommendations are not adopted by the government, Kadima will break from the coalition.
“Don’t you feel this report is racist” interrupts MK Ben-Ari again. “In essence isn’t this document intended to save Kadima, nothing more?”
Plesner requests that officials remove Ben-Ari from the room. Ben-Ari says his peace and walks out of the hall escorted by officials.
“I am always pleased when Kahanists give me mussar and try to tell me how to act” states Plesner as Ben-Ari is ousted.
Plesner: No one will be completely satisfied with the report since one cannot rectify decades of injustice immediately. In five-to-ten years however there will be a totally new reality in Israel, one that is correct and proper. We do not intend to trample the rights of any sector, but we are implementing historic change.
The report calls for equal service by all Jewish males, citing the need to act swiftly and legislate the new law by the deadline of the Tal Law for if not, tens of thousands of chareidim will be in a difficult situation come August 1, 2012.
Contrary to the interruptions and disturbances and opinion of the person, there is a need to establish a plan by the end of the year so that all citizens of the state serve in the IDF or a national service. (These remarks in reference to the interruptions by MK Ben-Ari regarding service by the Arab sector).
The report states that the responsibility must fall on each and every citizen for if this is not the case, the program will not succeed. Other arrangements in the past failed and we now have experience and realize this is the only way to actualize the new reality. Therefore, there must be personal responsibility, deterrence and consequences.
One failing to report for duty will be fined 7,500 NIS immediately in addition to 75 NIS daily for each day he fails to report for service. In addition, rental and other state benefits will be halted, including the monthly kollel stipend of 850 NIS.
Such has been the case for one granted a deferment to complete university studies prior to enlisting. If after completing one’s studies one announced he no longer wishes to serve, such a person is imprisoned and this is what the system must be for one and all.
At present, there are those who do not serve yet they receive state benefits. I am not equating or measuring the value of learning torah and military service, but I am saying there must be one law and one set of rules for all citizens.
A plan including service for Arab citizens must be in place no later than March 2013.
80% Induction Goal
Plesner envisions reaching a goal of inducting 80% of draft eligible male chareidim annually, which means 1,500 avreichim will be permitted to declare torah study as their fulltime profession and avoid serving. He expects this to be accomplished gradually, reaching the goal by 2016.
Age of Induction
We opted for a moderate approach and we are willing to permit one to delay military service to the age of 20-21. This provides some time in yeshiva gedola as well as receiving a person young enough to still function in a combat unit and serve his country.
Anyone who is not learning will enter the IDF at the age of induction, 18. The idea is the state permits a delay in service and yeshivos will receive funding on the condition the talmidim adhere to the law and report for duty as they must. There will be no additional delays and efforts towards avoiding service as was the case under the Tal Law are no longer tolerable.
Everyone must enter the IDF or a national service by age 22.
Length of Military Service
The days of shortened and specialized service are gone and everyone must serve equally. (Reference to the end of the current hesder yeshiva arrangement which includes 60 months, of which 18 are in military service. This will demand a restructuring of the entire hesder yeshiva program).
The service period will be 24 months. Those who share in the burden will be compensated and those who do not will be fined and compelled to pay the price.
Monitoring & Enforcement
The IDF will be empowered to monitor and enforce the arrangement, including access to yeshivos. Those learning will receive a delay but the thousands who are not truly reporting to yeshivos to learn will be compelled to enter the military.
Anyone signing a false statement, claiming to be learning but not reporting to beis medrash will face criminal charges as is the case with females who receive a deferment after declaring they are frum, only to learn that they are not shomer shabbos.
(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)