Jobs More Important Than the Army
The government should focus more on getting ultra-Orthodox men into the workforce and less on trying to force them into the army, because that’s “yesterday’s fight,” says a former chief of the Prime Minister’s Office. The former PMO director general, Eyal Gabai, was speaking Tuesday to the Plesner Committee, which is seeking ways to integrate Haredim and Arabs into military or civilian service. Gabai told the panel it should replace current legislation with a plan that limits government support for yeshivas and kollels (yeshivas for married men) and slashes benefits that thousands of Haredi families now receive. He suggested that Haredi families be given discounts on local tax (arnona), kindergarten fees and housing only after the parents prove they have made efforts to find work. This is the only way to substantially reduce the population of married Haredi men who neither serve in the Israel Defense Forces nor earn a living, Gabai said. While Gabai’s testimony was closed to the media, he had outlined his ideas the day before at an event sponsored by the Israel Democracy Institute. There, he said the main problem was that the ultra-Orthodox were not assuming their fair share of the country’s economic burden. This was far more important than the “burden of blood” – serving in the IDF, Gabai said.
Here is a video of Gabai’s talk at the Israel Democracy Institute where he outlines his recommendations. (Hebrew)