The public in Israel is in favor of recruiting chareidim for the IDF, but considers they should not be coerced to enlist, a new poll found.
According to a survey commissioned by Ynet and Gesher, an organization dedicated to promoting unity in Israel, half of the public believes that a compromise is the only acceptable way to sway the chareidim to serve.
The poll found that 72% of Jews in the country believe that members of the ultra-Orthodox sector have the duty to serve in the IDF. Of them, 54% asserted that the law should apply to everyone equally, and that chareidim should shoulder the burden as well, while 18% identified army service as a mitzvah.
In contrast, 13% of the public oppose mandatory draft for the ultra-Orthodox; some argued that one should not be forced to perform an act that goes against his beliefs, while others expressed concern that rabbis would adversely influence the soldiers.
The poll, which was conducted by the Panels research center, surveyed a 508-person sample representative of the country’s Jewish adults. The study was commissioned following the High Court of Justice’s ruling against the extenstion of the Tal Law, which exempts yeshiva students from military service.
Some 51% of the public, including 60% of the religious sector, 58% of traditionalists and 49% of seculars, said that a compromise should be reached in order to cause the chareidi public to enlist willingly.
But 35% of those polled said that chareidim should be drafted through the uncompromising enforcement of the existing law. Some 4% argued that the growing enlistment trend within the ultra-Orthodox communities makes intervention unnecessary.
Some of those polled – 7% – said that chareidim should not be recruited by the military; of them, 3% said that the IDF can manage without them, while 4% said that it is the Torah that protects the people of Israel. The rest of those polled said they do not identify with either of the positions.
A period of chaos would ensue if the ultra-religious are eventually forced to enlist, 38% of those surveyed said, but eventually the sector would accept the reality and would integrate in the army.
Meanwhile 18% said they expected the chareidi community to divide over the issue; 12% said that a civil war would follow; and 3% said they believe the measure would go over quietly.
“We believe that social change will come from public pressure and dialogue between the sectors,” Gesher Executive Director Ilan Geal-Dor said. “The chareidi sector is undergoing dramatic changes, and the general public must aid them to integrate in the military or civil service. This process will take years, and cannot be rushed through conflict.”