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Not everyone needs to be drafted, says former IDF chief
(Times of Israel, June 20, 2012)

The IDF should select who it wants to draft first, and those not drafted should serve in other frameworks such as the police and firefighters, [Gabi] Ashkenazi said… ‘I don’t understand why someone from Taibeh [an Israeli-Arab city in central Israel] can be a nurse at a hospital and not a paramedic in Magen David Adom,’ Ashkenazi said regarding the inclusion of Arab citizens into Israeli society. Turning to the drafting of ultra-Orthodox men into the army, Ashkenazi said it was important to make them, too, a part of society and part of the workforce. He said the top rabbis would ‘have to choose who stays in yeshiva. All the rest will go to the army.’

Israel needs to assimilate its ultra-religious Jewish and Arab populations into its society. Israel can’t sustain paying for the entire Haredi population to stay in religious school, and those populations should meet others from outside their small communities. Further, Arab populations must stop being marginalized, living in little bubbles of their own. Trust has to start somewhere. Allow Arab Israelis, male and female alike, to do some form of national service to give them a sense of belonging in this country.

I have my own opinions concerning how well Israel’s army is a tool for assimilation (a great case study would be the Chayalim Bodedim, Lone Soldiers, who serve out of a commitment to the country they’ve adopted as their own), but it’s a fantastic first step for these groups that even Israel’s outspoken former chief of staff admits must be incorporated into Israel’s society. The sooner, the better.

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