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IDF to Draft Ultra-Orthodox Jews in 2013

The bulk of next year’s graduating class will be absorbed by the IDF

Adam Chandler
October 15, 2012
Israeli Conscription of Ultra-Orthodox to Begin in 2013(Reuters)
Israeli Conscription of Ultra-Orthodox to Begin in 2013(Reuters)

Some news just came across the wire from Israel, where it was announced that ultra-Orthodox men will be drafted into the Israeli Defense Force starting next summer. The announcement was made by Defense Minister Ehud Barak.

He told the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee that in lieu of the Tal Law, which exclusively governed the issue of ultra-Orthodox military service and expired on August 1, he had instructed the army to design an interim plan that would leave unaltered the status of yeshiva students in their 20s but would begin preparing to draft those in their late teens.

Barak said he had directed the army to “put an emphasis on correcting the future,” meaning 16-18-year-olds. The status of the others, the bulk of the 60,000 students of army age currently not serving, could not be decided by decree alone, he said, adding that such a move would seem “predatory” and that the decision was best decided at the polls “in another 100 days.”

While it seems extremely likely that this will not be the last word on the matter, this is a pretty big development. The battle to enlist Haredim into the IDF has been a long and protracted, one that will likely have implications for the upcoming elections, which were announced just last week. We’ll keep track of the story as it develops.

Adam Chandler was previously a staff writer at Tablet. His work has appeared in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal, the Atlantic, Slate, Esquire, New York, and elsewhere. He tweets @allmychandler.