Israel and national service for all – Timely in face of the coming maelstrom

As the Arab and Iranian Moslem world marches inexorably to a religious war, probably on the scale of Europe’s Thirty Years War of the seventeenth century, Israel too faces danger. What better way – albeit a foolish and self-destructive way – to foster national resolve and national direction for the imploded Syria, or the imploding Egypt, or the soon-to-implode Jordan, to launch an attack on Israel.

All the more timely therefore that the Israeli government has managed at long last to ease the discord that has existed for many years over exemptions from military duty granted to Jewish seminary students. Secular Israelis – the majority in the country – have long bridled over state privileges handed to the country’s conservative believers – the ‘haredim’ – who constitute 10% (and growing) of the 8-million population. Most Israeli men and women are called up for military service for up to 3-years when they turn 18-years old and they often see active service in the administered territories known as the West Bank and at other flash-points.

While Israeli ultra-Orthodox (the ‘haredim’) may be angry about the Israeli cabinet’s recent approval of a draft law to abolish wholesale exemptions, the unity this decision brings to the country at such a dangerous time is valuable.