Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon during an appearance before the Knesset committee finalizing the chareidi draft law expressed adamant opposition to “drastic enforcement” of the law. The minister appeared before the committee on Sunday, 11 Tishrei 5774, explaining to chairwoman MK (Bayit Yehudi) Ayelet Shaked that if the enforcement of the new law is too drastic, it will result in widespread chareidi opposition and this is to be avoided.
Vice President of Research at the Israel Democracy Institute Prof. Yedidya Stern concurred, explaining to committee members they cannot compel military service on avreichim who are sitting and learning Torah. “Such a decision will result in a split in the nation and I will object to it” Prof. Stern explained to committee members. Stern also feels the committee cannot define who is an “illui” and who will receive a draft deferment. If the government attempts to compel compliance as some wish, it will result in an embarrassing situation for the government and at the end; there will not be a draft.
MK (Yahadut Hatorah) R’ Moshe Gafne reiterated the merit and the need of the lomdei Torah, adding “Woe to us if the State of Israel becomes the only country in the world that does not permit one to study Torah.”
In his remarks to the committee, HaRav HaGaon Rav Chaim Aaron Kaufman, who heads the Vaad Yeshivos stated “the number 1,800 is arbitrary which lacks any reasoning and it must be known that the limud Torah protects Am Yisrael.”
Responding to his words, Chairwoman Shaked stated “we must reevaluate the 1,800 number and perhaps we should revert to the Ya’alon method”, referring to DM Ya’alon who feels a number should not be set at all. Ya’alon proposed drafting the number of soldiers needed annually and that is all rather than setting ceilings for the number of deferments from military/national service.
IDF representative to the committee Brigadier-General Gadi Agmon told committee members the IDF invested 60 million NIS over the past year towards preparing to accommodate a large chareidi draft. He added to date the military has not received any additional funding from the Finance Committee, and that the IDF has taken the step even before the bill is passed into law.
(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)