Recently, CECI spearheaded a forum headed by former Minister and head of Shin Bet, Ami Ayalon, which prompted discussions about promoting civil service recruitment to the IDF in the Ultra-Orthodox (Haredi) sector of Israel. (CECI’s “National Civil Service Project” promotes civil service members’ involvement in excluded sectors of society.)
MK Yohanan Plesner served as a prominent voice in discussions as to the best approach to secure recruitment in the Haredi and other ostracized areas. It was noted that of these young people who reach 18, records show that generally 50% of the youths will not be drafted into the IDF. These include Ultra-Orthodox, non-Jewish citizens, and those with physical difficulties. This state of polarization deepens the sense of a growing rift between the various sectors of Israeli society.
Participants generated a proposal to lobby their idea of integrating the Ultra-Orthodox circuit into mainstream society. All agreed that the Israeli public must recognize the changing status and role of the IDF. Only a combination of army and Civil Service will enable the various sectors of the public to share the vast array of society’s burdens. Key points included:
- Promote a public dialogue with the Orthodox population to allow recruitment into the national service circuit.
- Consider long-term effects on army recruits if thousands of Orthodox recruits are included.
- Create various ways for Haredi volunteers to effectively choose between the army and civil service work.
- Establish a framework for an emergency civil service unit.
In addition to promoting the involvement of National Civil Service members in ostracized sectors of society, the “National Civil Service Project’s” goal is to increase awareness of the importance of personal contributions in order to secure a well-functioning and healthy society.