Draft Law: It just won't go by force

If one wants to make a real change in the attitude of the haredi public towards the State, it must come from dialogue and mutual respect.

Ayelet Shaked,

Ayelet Shaked
Ayelet Shaked
Kobi Richter/TPS

During the short term of the 19th Knesset, I was appointed to chair the Special Committee to Discuss the Bill on Equal Burden in the Military, Civil Service, and Labor Market and to Regulate the Status of Yeshiva Students, a fancy name for what is publicly called the "Equality of Burden Committee".

When I approached the task of building the new arrangement for drafting haredim, I started from one clear point of departure: It just won't go by force.

I realized that in a sensitive issue such as this, the way to achieve the goals of connecting the haredi public to the Israeli public, entering the labor market and academia, military, and National Service, must strictly preserve haredi identity and with the processes that enable haredi society, to create tools and frameworks that will allow these processes to happen.

Yair Lapid was the one who supported forcing the process. He imagined how military police battalions would come in to pick up students who weren't drafted out of the yeshivot and how the courts would judge them for violating of the Security Service Act.

But everyone with a brain in his head knew that such a tactic would produce the opposite effect. That a one-sided aggressive move would destroy the integration processes that had already begun and hamper the desire of haredim to join existing frameworks.

I adopted a completely opposite method from Yair Lapid's conception.

For many months, I met with many parties in the haredi community. I sat with rabbis and yeshiva heads, with haredi politicians, with military and Defense Ministry officials, with haredi soldiers and their commanders, and together with them I was able to create a framework that would prevent damage to the haredi world, but enable haredi people to join appropriate frameworks and go on to learn a profession and join the Israeli labor market.

The mechanism that I built with them was very delicate, and included many elements that tried to maintain the balance that would allow the ongoing processes to continue in the field, strengthen the trust between the haredi public and the security system, and strengthen the integration of haredim in the army, National Service, and labor market.

Throughout, Lapid threatened that he would insist on "criminal sanctions for those who did not enlist." A statement that sounds flashy but behind it is hot air. Because even Lapid knew that it would be impossible to prosecute those who did not enlist. He also knew full well that such a decision would seriously hurt the real processes of increasing recruitment in the haredi public. But as usual with Lapid, he preferred the populist statement to true action.

Unfortunately, eventually, under Lapid's pressure, criminal sanctions were introduced into the law and significantly impaired its effectiveness. To my delight, the mechanisms I have built minimize this damage.

We in the United Right understand that whoever thinks he can force a huge public to change its ways immediately and aggressively is doomed to fail.

We understand that if we want to make a real change in the attitude of the haredi public to the State, it must come from dialogue and mutual respect. That's the way it is: Some people issue proclamations, and others get results.

Translated by Mordechai Sones