August 1 has arrived and the Tal Law, which exempted chareidim from mandatory military service, has officially expired. Israeli Defense Minister Ehud Barak has instructed the Israel Defense Forces to reinstate the latest version of the Defense Service Law, from 1968, and to submit within one month a practical proposal regarding the implementation of the law in the chareidi community. This would serve as a temporary solution until the Knesset legislates a new law that permanently regulates the chareidi draft.
Barak issued a statement saying that the policy guidelines that he plans to implement are designed to reflect the High Court of Justice ruling on the issue, the IDF’s particular draft needs and its values, the principle of equality in sharing of the burden and individual compatibility for service. According to Barak, the goal is to rapidly increase the number of drafted chareidim, expand the IDF programs specifically tailored to accommodate chareidim, like the technological and the operational programs, and incorporate chareidim into service in the home front as well as the Israel Police and the Prison Service.
Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu on Tuesday rejected allegations that the government’s failure to legislate an alternative to the Tal Law before it expired had created a vacuum. “There is no vacuum,” he insisted. “There is no absence of a law. The current law is a mandatory service law that applies to everyone, and the IDF will recruit as it sees fit, in accordance with its needs.”
There is still too wide of a gap between the instatement of the law and its implementation. According to IDF assessments, chareidim will simply ignore the orders and refrain from reporting to the enlistment offices, and it is doubtful that the army will send military policemen to their homes in search of them.
According to the Chiddush organization, the expiration of the Tal Lawmean a loss of more than 30 million shekels per month for charedi schools.
According to the law, Chiddush argues, the state is no longer permitted to provide funding for the students who have been using the Tal Law to defer their enlistment. Once the law expired, these students are obligated to report for duty and can no longer study Torah at the state’s expense. Chiddush argues that this enlistment deferment encompasses some 54,000 yeshiva and kollel students, translating into some 400 million shekels annually.
On the charedi side, there was no particular panic ahead of the expiration of the Tal Law. “The only thing we care about these days is the completion of the Talmud study cycle,” said a senior United Torah Judaism official. “It is far more historical and significant than the headlines people are trying to create. Nothing is going to happen. The IDF is not equipped to absorb thousands of charedim. A small procedure will ensue, putting a band-aid on the whole situation for three months, and then everything will go back to the way it was.”
MK Nissim Zeev of Shas said that “What was is what will be. We are simply going back to the way it was before the Tal Law. There is nothing to worry about.”
Read more at ISRAEL HAYOM.