What do you want from the ultra-Orthodox? After all, in Tel Aviv, no one serves in the Israel Defense Forces, either. And if some do serve, they're posted to the Kirya defense headquarters, where they work as clerks. So why have we been blaming the draft dodgers from the Ponevezh Yeshiva? After all, the lefties from Rothschild Boulevard evade military service just as much.
Shas leader Eli Yishai has been talking about this in recent days in an effort to torpedo the Plesner Committee's recommendations on the draft. Of course, that's not surprising - it's part of his strategy to keep providing havens for the ultra-Orthodox in the form of yeshivas. The problem is that many secular people have begun believing this huge lie; after all, if you repeat a lie often enough, it becomes the truth.
The source of this lie is concealed in the IDF's conscription statistics, which include a comparison between the cities and elsewhere in the country. The IDF doesn't make a balanced comparison. Tel Aviv is a large city; it's not homogenous. It has assorted population groups with extreme differences in socioeconomics, education, income and family values.
And this large city with its plethora of problems is compared with places like Shoham and Maccabim-Reut, which are small and homogenous. Most people there have a high socioeconomic status and share similar values and views. So it's clear why Tel Aviv looks bad in comparison.
To correct this deception, let's look at young people who have completed high school in Tel Aviv and see how many indeed evade the draft.
The Tel Aviv education authorities recently examined the matter. They looked at the percentage of conscripts and the quality of military service among those who had completed 12 years of school and were born in 1992. The survey covered 13 state secular schools in Tel Aviv - Ironi Alef, Ironi Daled, Ironi Heh, Ironi Vav (Bialik-Rogozin ), Ironi Zayin, Ironi Tet, Alliance, Ironi Yud Daled, Tichon Hadash, Gymnasia Herzliya, Amal Lady Davis, Ort Singalovski and Shevach Mofet. In addition, three state religious high schools were examined - Ironi Het, Yeshivat Bar-Ilan, and Beit Sefer Amit.
The results were amazing. The rate of enlistment among boys in the 16 high schools was 94 percent, and at the 13 nonreligious schools it was 95 percent! Isn't that a surprise?
And how many of these students, from among those with a suitable profile, go into combat units? In the state secular schools, 38 percent become combat soldiers - just the opposite of draft dodging. That's higher than the national average. The percentage doing "quality service" - assisting the combatants - stands at 33 percent. That's the opposite of draft dodging, too.
And how many go to an officers course? Seven percent - also higher than the national average. And how many of these come from the vilified high schools of north Tel Aviv like Ironi Daled, Alliance, Ironi Yud Daled and Lady Davis? More than 10 percent. So who exactly is evading military service?
And here's another big surprise: 94 percent of girls at the city's state secular schools enlist in the IDF, while at the state religious schools, the number stands at 29 percent because girls there can get an exemption for "religious reasons." Special praise is due here to the girls from the secular schools.
Maybe you'll say students from Tel Aviv's southern and central neighborhoods are responsible for the high conscription rate, and that the spoiled northerners don't enlist at all. So I'll tell you that the conscription rate among graduates of Ironi Yud Daled is 99 percent, at Lady Davis, Alliance and Tichon Hadash it's 96 percent, at Ironi Daled it's 94 percent, at Gymnasia Herzliya it's 90 percent, at Ironi Heh it's 88 percent, and at Ironi Alef (where those lefties and arty types study ) it's 95 percent.
These numbers, as well as the IDF's statistics, show that draft dodging among secular and religious Zionist Jews throughout the country is insignificant. On the other hand, evasion by the Haredim stands at 90 percent.
But the truth isn't important, and Yishai doesn't let it upset him. This week he kept saying that "first we have to check the number of conscripts from north Tel Aviv before we make problems for the Haredim." So we checked. Now he has to do some stock-taking and apologize.
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