Several days after the Tal Law for religious exemptions from the IDF was deemed illegal by the Supreme Court, members of the New Liberal Movement and the Movement for a Professional Army held a demonstration in Tel Aviv, in which they offered an alternative which might please all sides: turning the IDF into a professional volunteer army.
The demonstrators called on the government to end the current mandatory military service and build a professional army, the soldiers of which will be paid minimum wage.
They also called to shorten the minimum service for men to two years, while at the same time making the military service differential and determining each person’s length of service in accordance with training time. Soldiers who serve for a more than two years will receive significantly greater compensation than those who serve minimum service, according to the group’s proposal.
One of the demonstrators, Barak Hershkowitz, told Arutz Sheva, “The reason I came to this demonstration is because I believe the right thing is to head towards a solution which does not keep the existing situation, with which people are very unhappy. The Tal Law made headlines recently and not coincidentally. Most Israelis don’t go to the army, and as a person who did go to the army and is very happy to be part of the IDF, I think that the issue needs to undergo a significant revision, a real revolution.”
Hershkowitz said that he believes that “the forced recruitment hasn’t proven itself until now. We’ve understood that most people don’t enlist. Even those who do enlist are a burden on the system. In order to make the system more efficient and also receive better security as well as a more just society with less coercion and less limitations on people, we need to head in that direction.
Another demonstrator, Lian Andrew, said the current system leads to the IDF having many soldiers “who are unnecessary and who are a great waste of money.”
Andrew said that if the system of a professional army is implemented, the money that is wasted on soldiers who do not even want to be in the IDF can be saved and used towards giving better rewards to those who do want to serve, or towards the development of new security technology.
“It’ll result in a strong army, with a lot of money and with no coercion, which is the best part,” he said.
Another participant in the demonstrator was none other than Moshe Feiglin, the head of the Likud’s Manhigut Yehudit Faction. Feiglin told Arutz Sheva that the presence of someone like him, who believes in the wholeness of the land of Israel, at a demonstration calling to eliminate mandatory military service is not as strange as it may seem.
“Everybody who wonders about this should remember that the destruction of Gush Katif and the expulsion of thousands of Jews from the land of Israel did not come about from the fact that there was a lack of soldiers in the IDF, but because we were lacking freedom,” said Feiglin. “If we had the principles of freedom in this country, this disaster could not have occurred.”
Boaz Arad, spokesman for the New Liberal Movement, noted, “The idea of a people's army was not realized. Attempts to implement are making it difficult for the economy and society, on the one hand, and affect the professional efficiency of the army on the other hand. The burden resulting from the model of the mandatory military service comes down to a loss of nine billion shekels a year.”