Hareidi-religious soldiers
Hareidi-religious soldiersFlash 90

The Perry Committee on Equal Burden of Service will present its recommendations to the government on Sunday. The committee created a series of recommendations related to boosting military enlistment in the hareidi-religious community.

The recommendations are expected to face strong opposition, with various factions disagreeing with the committee’s findings for their own reasons.

The Yisrael Beytenu faction is expected to oppose the recommendations due to the fact that they focus on hareidi enlistment while ignoring the question of mandatory national service for Arab citizens of Israel. Israeli Arabs are currently exempt from the draft.

The Bayit Yehudi (Jewish Home) faction is expected to voice opposition for the same reason, and for other reasons as well, including the plan to extend the term of active military duty involved in the Hesder program, which combines military service and Torah study.

Bayit Yehudi leaders also oppose the committee’s suggestion that heads of yeshivas whose students do not enlist should face criminal charges, as does Minister Amir Peretz of the Hatnua faction.

MK Yoni Chetboun (Bayit Yehudi) explained his concerns over the recommendations. “Israel’s security needs are serious, and the entire public must help bear them, particularly now, with the escalation in the north,” he said. However, he said, “The process [of hareidi integration] as currently planned is doomed to failure.”

“The threat of criminal punishment violates the coalition agreement, and will just add fuel to the fire,” he argued. “The recommendations look like an anti-hareidi campaign. We have to remember that the goal is to integrate the hareidi-religious, not to make them secular.”

Any solution to disparities in enlistment rates must follow real dialog, he added. “It isn’t ethical or wise to promote this process without direct dialog with the hareidi world,” he said.

Prominent Likud legislator Yariv Levin voiced similar concerns Saturday, terming the recommendations “an anti-hareidi campaign” and “a bluff.”

Opposition parties have criticized the plan as well. Hareidi Knesset Members have accused the government of seeking to harm Torah students, while a Labor MK has expressed concern that the high marriage rates among hareidi-religious young men will mean the proposals have little real effect.