Daily Israel Report

Labor Candidate: Don’t Enlist Hareidim

Left-wing newcomer surprises by opposing drive to recruit hareidi men. ‘It’s too late.’
First Publish: 12/18/2012, 10:50 PM

Soldiers, hareidim
Soldiers, hareidim
Flash 90

Labor party candidate Meirav Michaeli announced Tuesday that, unlike most on the political left, she does not believe hareidi-religious men should be required to enlist in the IDF.

“I’m not in favor of enlisting hareidim,” she said. “Israeli politics has given rabbis power by continuing to insist on enlistment.”

Regarding the fact that hareidi men largely avoid military service while others are required to serve, Michaeli said, “There’s no doubt that there’s a historic injustice, but it has already been done.”

Michaeli showed sympathy for hareidi men who engage in full-time Torah learning rather than joining the IDF. “Learning in yeshiva isn’t fun, it’s a hard and depressing life,” she argued. “There aren’t many people who are willing to sit from morning to night memorizing Gemara. It’s unbelievably complex.”

Instead of pushing military service, “it’s much more important that hareidi men join the workforce and be a part of society,” she argued. Israeli men eligible for military service are not allowed to work prior to serving, making it illegal for most young hareidi men to find employment.

“I do not doubt that if we were to make all hareidi men exempt from service today, we would pull the power away from rabbis,” Michaeli declared. “Many hareidim want to fit in, and want us to make them exempt from service and stop threatening englistment.”

Forcing hareidi men to join the army would hurt women’s status in the army, she added. Hareidi men prefer not to serve alongside women for reasons of modesty, preferring all-male units.

Michaeli has previously opposed army service for everyone. She said in 2010 that “women should not send their children to the army” due to Israel’s presence in Judea and Samaria, which she termed an occupation.