woensdag 18 januari 2012

De wet van Tal

(Israel Government Press Office)

Yediot Aharonot refers to the controversy over the objection of some national religious soldiers to being compelled to attend IDF events at which women soldiers sing. The author, a musician and singer, says, "Religious soldiers who are becoming more extreme are part of the IDF and we must give them a sense of mutual responsibility even though they are pains-in-the-neck. The state must fight for what is important and not over marginal issues. And if you tell me that women singers are liable to be insulted, as a singer, I will tell you that it is more insulting to know that part of your audience is listening because it is being forced to." The author adds: "I support courtesy and brutality. If it is possible to make things easier for religious soldiers, then why not? If it impairs operational activities - then certainly not. It is worthwhile to be as generous and flexible as possible. The women will continue to sing and the religious soldiers can either go out for a quiet smoke or can plug their ears and stare down at their nicely shined boots, and the redemption will come. But as soon as the soldiers go over a certain line, such as refusing to accept the authority of a woman superior officer, then they must be punished with full force and sent to a provocative performance by Lady Gaga, no, just kidding; rather, send them to a military prison."

Four papers discuss reports that PM Benjamin Netanyahu will seek a five-year extension of the so-called Tal Law, which allows ultra-orthodox young men to defer IDF service for a limited period in the hope of encouraging more of them to eventually opt for some form of service:

Ma'ariv believes that "What is guiding the Prime Minister is the desire to maintain his government and placate the ultra-orthodox parties at any price," even if this means missing an opportunity "to end the historic distortion created by the Tal Law."

The Jerusalem Post comments: "It would be unwise to renew the Tal Law for an additional five years" as PM Netanyahu seeks. "Doing so is liable to lead to complacency. The state must find ways to maintain gentle but insistent pressure on haredi young men to share with their non-haredi brethren in the collective endeavor to defend the Jewish state. Providing economic incentives to those who do serve, creating additional frameworks within the IDF and National Service that include the haredi population, and allowing evolutionary changes within this population to proceed unhindered are the best methods of facilitating integration. It is disconcerting to imagine that due to haredi natural growth, within a decade or two, half of all 18-year-old boys will opt out of mandatory military service. But it is possible to imagine something else - that in another decade or two, the haredi population will have changed dramatically, and significantly larger numbers will be sharing in the collective burdens of the Jewish nation."

Haaretz writes: "The law that perpetuates discrimination in favor of the ultra-Orthodox community at the expense of secular people has justified its opponents' fears and proved wrong its supporters' pretensions. Members of the secular majority continue to enlist, serve and sacrifice three years of their lives - and sometimes their lives - while the ultra-Orthodox continue to choose between total evasion of military service and preferential enlistment conditions. Netanyahu is asking for another five years while Barak only wants one. This is one more illustration of the cowardice of the defense minister who many years ago was a courageous soldier. Barak returned to the Defense Ministry four and a half years ago. He should have prepared for the Tal Law's expiry last year and not looked for excuses to postpone the process for another year. Israeli society, the military and the ultra-Orthodox community need shaking up. This must start with the shelving of the Tal Law."

Yisrael Hayom asserts that "The Tal Law was born in sin; its existence has been a mistake and its failure is obvious." The author contends that the vast majority of ultra-orthodox rabbis want nothing to do with enlistment in the IDF and that the overall number of ultra-orthodox young men who have opted for some form of IDF service under the law has been tiny. The paper says, "The double situation - they do not enlist in the IDF, but receive financial assistance from the state anyway - is intolerable," and adds, "While the Israeli public countenanced this anomaly for many years, a new public has now arisen, that is not prepared to do so any longer." The author concludes, "One year or five, the Tal Law is destined to fade away, the sooner the better."

[Koby Oz, Lilach Sigan and Dan Margalit wrote today's articles in Yediot Aharonot, Ma'ariv and Yisrael Hayom, respectively.]