Letter to the Prime Minister and Party Leaders on Universal Draft
24 Shvat, 5773
Feb. 4, '13
Chairman of Likud Beiteinu, Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu
Chairman of Yesh Atid, Yair Lapid
Chairman of Jewish Home, Naftali Bennett
Chairman of Shas, Minister Eli Yishai
Chairman of Agudat Yisrael, Deputy Minister Rabbi Yaakov Litzman
Re: Solution for the Universal Draft Issue
I would like to present a proposal for the solution of the issue of
universal draft in Israel. This proposal represents a different approach
that can not only solve the problem, but will also provide leverage to
strengthen the IDF and Israeli society.
First, I would like to object to the premise that army service is a unifying
factor (melting pot) of Israeli society. Today, a large part of Israeli
society – not necessarily the Ultra-Orthodox – find a way to evade mandatory
service. Further, only a few percentages of the entire society serve in the
Mandatory military service is one of the factors that divides and fragments
Israeli society. The discussion being conducted now is one of the proofs of
that. Additionally, the obligation to draft everyone is actually a burden on
the army and economy; it cultivates hidden unemployment and lack of
The Main Points of the Proposal:
Creating a process that will transform the army into a professional,
On the other side of the coin: We must exchange our exclusive reliance on
the army as an apparently unifying factor in Israeli society with a true
investment in strengthening our shared national and cultural identity. This
entails authentic dialogue between all the main sectors in Israeli society.
Specifics of the Proposal on Army Service:
• The Mandatory Draft Law will remain on the books, but the IDF will draft
only those who it is interested in drafting according to the tracks to be
specified below. (If needed, the army can make up for any lack of soldiers
with mandatory draft).
• Most of the recruits will serve in a shortened training track (not more
than two months) that will prepare them for various roles in times of
emergency, and will be discharged.
• Recruits who volunteer for military units will be drafted for at least
three years. They will receive minimum wage during their training and
standing army wages during their military service.
• Recruits who volunteer for special units will be drafted for a longer term
of 5-6 years, in accordance with the training invested in them. They will
also receive minimum wage during training and standing army wages during
their military service.
• The National Service and Civil Service frameworks will continue to play
their roles in society, in accordance with the civil needs.
• Reserve units will receive high pay and high national classification as
detailed in the following point.
• A classification on a point system will be set in place. Points will be
allotted in relation to reserve time served. These points will afford the
reservists preference for anything that society honors – to encourage those
who give of themselves for the good of the whole. (Academia, housing,
Application of Proposal:
This proposal does not require a change in legislation, but rather, a change
in perspective. The army must be allowed to draft those individuals who it
can professionally train and from whom it will truly benefit. Those not
needed by the army can give to society in National or Civil service, as well
as their preparedness for active duty during emergencies. Those who do not
wish to do their part in any way will remain at "the end of the line" in any
domain in which society encourages those who give to it.
This proposal will make the army more effective while freeing those
imprisoned today in mandatory conscription (be it in the army or in yeshivah)
into the work market. Instead of funding unemployed soldiers and yeshivah
students who do not want to enlist, a wave of young workers will enter the
workforce and will bring about a more just distribution of the economic
burden on the shoulders of Israel's citizens.
Military service is a privilege – not a burden. Mandatory conscription is
not really needed. It weakens our security and economy, creates unnecessary
conflicts and fragments society.
As you have been elected to lead the political system, I call upon you to
adopt this new, fresh approach to the draft issue in addition to channeling
your efforts into the real way to unite Israeli society: investment in our
national identity and its meaning.
Wishing you much success,
New Page 2