Moshe Feiglin’s Letter to the Prime Minister and Party Leaders on Universal Draft
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 reserves.
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 professionalism.
The Main Points of the Proposal:
Creating a process that will transform the army into a professional, volunteer force.
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, employment, etc.)
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,