MK Porush: Equality? Why don't Arabs Serve?
MK Meir Porush (United Torah Judaism – UTJ) has been conducting a series of meetings with fellow MKs from various parties in recent days, in an attempt to convince them that the demand that hareidim serve in the military – a demand that is justified by invoking the concept of equality – is hypocritical. He has also been engaged in a dialogue with the Attorney General on the matter.
The campaign to force hareidi men to enlist into the military is presented to the public as an attempt to get hareidim to shoulder an equal part of “the national burden” – i.e., the obligations that Israeli citizens take upon themselves, which include mandatory army service.
Porush says, however, that this is a misrepresentation of the facts.
"This has nothing to do with 'equality in sharing the burden,'” he told MKs. “It is, rather, a morally reprehensible attempt by the heads of government to change an arrangement that was made at the founding of the state, to postpone the service of those who study Torah.”
Porush says he has been asking secular MKs why Bedouins serve in the military on a purely voluntary basis, and why Arabs in general are not required to serve in the military or alternative national service.
He also asked the attorney general how it is possible, legally, to pass a law that requires “equality in the burden” only from Jews – while exempting the Arab minority from the very same equality.
The AG replied that the Supreme Court has already explained the difference between hareidim and Arabs, with regard to military service.
MK Porush then asked the AG how it is possible to force hareidim to do non-military national service, without demanding the same of Arabs. To this query, he says, he has never received an answer.
He went on to ask why Druze and Bedouin women are exempt from military service. MKs and legal officials were at a loss to explain this, too, he said.