Israeli Religious Military Exemption to End


 

Military service is a compulsory requirement of most Israelis. However Israel has historically exempted ultra-orthodox religious Jews (“Haredim”) from military service. The exemption was originally granted by Israel’s first Prime Minister David Ben-Gurion, and was meant to apply to a few hundred religious students.

 

However demographics and economic realities have overtaken the exemption. The Haredim are now the fastest growing segment of Israel’s population. They make up 10% of Israel’s population, 13% of Jewish males, and 25% of primary school pupils.

60% of Haredim men are not employed in mainstream economy, and estimates claim that their exemption costs Israel $750 million every year.

 

Forcing the Haredim to serve is likely to cause a showdown as many of them will resist military service. Expect a compromise. I don’t see Israel’s Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu getting into a fight with the Haredim.

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