Your email is not valid
Recipient's email is not valid
Submit Close

Your email has been sent.

Click here to send another

thescroll_header

Conscription Law Upended by Politics

With squabbling of Kadima and religious parties, Bibi holds all the cards

Print Email
A protest against heightened conscription last month in Jerusalem.(Menahem KahanaAFP/GettyImages)

Crafting a new law governing military service for the ultra-Orthodox—the current law, the Tal Law, having been deemed unconstitutional—was the very thing that Prime Minister Netanyahu’s enlarged coalition was ostensibly designed to do. And it’s the very thing that now threatens to rip it apart. The seams started coming undone last week, with Kadima legislators insisting on tougher conscription guidelines for the Haredim and, for good measure, Yisrael Beiteinu going for mandatory national service for Arab Israelis, who do not serve in the Israel Defense Force. The demands put Netanyahu in an awkward position because of the religious parties in his coalition.

Yesterday, the cracks enlarged when a member of one religious party departed the Plesner Committee, the Knesset group charged with writing the new law, in a huff.

And then today, it all came tumbling down. Netanyahu disbanded the committee, whose namesake and chair is a Kadima member (he did pay lip service to more service for Haredim and Arabs). Activists accused Kadima leader Shaul Mofaz of selling out. And now Mofaz has threatened to break up the coalition. “If the prime minister wishes not to turn toward the required direction, the unity government will reach its end,” he said.

The threat is a little ridiculous. Netanyahu had a government—and approval ratings so high he was on the verge of calling snap elections—before Mofaz joined him, and therefore would presumably have one if Mofaz left him. Mofaz’ party is extremely unpopular; this is the closest it will get to power in the forseeable future. And even if Mofaz’ threat were credible, its main result would be to push Bibi closer to the religious parties, whose support would theoretically once again become necessary.

It seems as though Israeli politics, structurally, are not going to lead to a revised Tal Law that increases the service requirements of the Haredi and Arab communities. If that’s going to happen, in other words, it’s going to happen behind the scenes and as a result of Netanyahu staking his own power and prestige on the project for the sake of the general good. Will anyone take that bet?

Israeli Coalition Divided on Military Conscription for Ultra-Orthodox [NYT]
Haredi Representative Quits Plesner Committee [Ynet]
Netanyahu Dissolves Plesner Committee [Ynet]
Mofaz Threatens to Break Up Israel’s Unity Cabinet [Haaretz]

Print Email

COMMENTING CHARGES
Daily rate: $2
Monthly rate: $18
Yearly rate: $180

WAIT, WHY DO I HAVE TO PAY TO COMMENT?
Tablet is committed to bringing you the best, smartest, most enlightening and entertaining reporting and writing on Jewish life, all free of charge. We take pride in our community of readers, and are thrilled that you choose to engage with us in a way that is both thoughtful and thought-provoking. But the Internet, for all of its wonders, poses challenges to civilized and constructive discussion, allowing vocal—and, often, anonymous—minorities to drag it down with invective (and worse). Starting today, then, we are asking people who'd like to post comments on the site to pay a nominal fee—less a paywall than a gesture of your own commitment to the cause of great conversation. All proceeds go to helping us bring you the ambitious journalism that brought you here in the first place.

I NEED TO BE HEARD! BUT I DONT WANT TO PAY.
Readers can still interact with us free of charge via Facebook, Twitter, and our other social media channels, or write to us at letters@tabletmag.com. Each week, we’ll select the best letters and publish them in a new letters to the editor feature on the Scroll.

We hope this new largely symbolic measure will help us create a more pleasant and cultivated environment for all of our readers, and, as always, we thank you deeply for your support.

doudie kay says:

If the frummies want to live in freedom in Israel, let them get off their kosher asses and start defending their own country otherwise, let them find another country that will take them in…But not here in the USA… They are worthless there and for sure here too.

doudie kay says:

I commented,,,, why doesnt it show or is it censored.

2000

Your comment may be no longer than 2,000 characters, approximately 400 words. HTML tags are not permitted, nor are more than two URLs per comment. We reserve the right to delete inappropriate comments.

Thank You!

Thank you for subscribing to the Tablet Magazine Daily Digest.
Please tell us about you.

Conscription Law Upended by Politics

With squabbling of Kadima and religious parties, Bibi holds all the cards

More on Tablet:

Saul Bellow Was a Cranky Essayist

By Adam Kirsch — A new collection of essays and nonfiction show the 20th-century master of fiction lashing out with personal grievances