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Wednesday, November 21, 2007

Discouraging service in the IDF - a suicidal policy

Israeli laws regarding military service and education are more or less suicidal. A typical soldier who serves in the IDF for over three years will then need to spend NIS 40,000 or more on tuition and support himself or herself while going to university to study subjects such as medicine, biology, chemistry, engineering or law. An ultraorthodox anti-Zionist Yeshiva student who opts out of military service will get a free education in the Talmud and full support for life. Of course, Talmud cannot be exported and doesn't grow anything. But it is a way to make a living at the expense of "the State" - meaning the rest of us.
Not surprisingly, there are more and more Yeshiva students, and more and more ultraorthodox, and more and more demands to spend money on ultraorthodox education, which does not prepare students for any practical occupations outside of religious life.
A proposal to fund university education of army veterans - an Israeli GI bill, or a proposal to underwrite GI home mortgages or any other such proposal will automatically be shot down by a coalition of Arab and ultraorthodox MKs who will use their leverage to ensure that the bill is never passed.
Ami Isseroff
Last update - 17:48 21/11/2007    
 IDF personnel chief: Soldiers not adequately rewarded for IDF service 
By Yuval Azoulay, Haaretz Correspondent  The head of the Israel Defense Forces Personnel Directorate said Wednesday that soldiers serving in the IDF are not being adequately rewarded for their service.
Speaking at a conference marking the first anniversary of the death of Major General Abraham Rotem at the Bar Ilan University in Ramat Gan, Major General Elazar Stern lamented the fact that Israelis that served in the IDF are not given priority in university acceptance procedures.
According to Stern, in 1994 there was a law stipulating that a soldier who completed a full military service would receive priority when applying to academic institutions. "During that year," Stern said, "the president of the Technion [Israel Institute for Technology] asked me if I'm aware of the fact that most of the students enrolled in the institution's medical program were Arab."

Referring to the fact that Arab citizens generally do not serve in the IDF, Stern continued "we wanted to give equal opportunities but ended up hurting equality -- we ended up giving priority to those who didn't serve their country."
Stern added that "a senior [in high school], with intense studying, can get a good score on the psychometric [standardized university entry] exam, I don't want to talk about how grades are given in that [Arab] sector, but what happens ultimately is that we're short dozens of potential doctors in the IDF's academic track, whose spots are taken by others, and the law giving priority to soldiers who serve, we've overturned."
Stern said he believed that in ten years, 25 percent of youth eligible for conscription will not enlist due to religious beliefs (as opposed to 11.5 percent today). "The Haredi Nahal unit (an infantry battalion for ultra-Orthodox soldiers) has pulled the rug out from under the Haredi excuse for not serving." Stern added that in the Haredi Nahal, "has provisions like you don't even see in Bnei Brak. There aren't any women for kilometers. The food is Glat Kosher, they are forced to attend prayer, and there is a cloth on the fence so that they can't see a female soldier from a 300 meter distance, even if she's dressed properly."

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