68% of Israelis opposed to draft exemption for haredim

Poll conducted by Hiddush shows that two-thirds of Israeli public opposed to cabinet decision to grant all-encompassing draft exemption for yeshiva students

Ynet, Israel/August 17, 2010

A poll conducted by the Rafi Smith Institute for the non-profit Hiddush for Religious Freedom and Equality found that 68% of the Jewish public is opposed to the government decision to cancel mandatory military service for yeshiva students, allowing them to perform one year of national service in its stead.

The poll surveyed a 500-person sample representative of the adult Jewish population in Israel.

About three weeks ago, the cabinet decided to grant an exemption from military service for haredim aged 22 and older.

According the poll, opposition to the decision crosscuts religious affiliation and sector with 80% of secular people, 81% of immigrants from the former Soviet Union, 65% of traditionalists in opposition.

Some 72% of people earning less than average are opposed to the decision, and 71% of people earning a higher than average income are opposed to it. Sixty-nine percent of people under the age of 30 are opposed to the decision, alongside 70% of people above the age of 50.

Contrary to claims that haredim are opposed to the decision, the poll shows that they are generally satisfied with the exemption, with 62% supporting the government decision.

In his response to the survey's findings, Hiddush Director Rabbi Uri Regev called upon the government "to come to its senses and immediately announced the revocation of the perverse decision to grant a sweeping exemption to yeshiva students."

According to Rabbi Regev, "The way in which the government acted is testimony to just how much it knew the public would not be prepared to come to terms with such a policy, as is shown by the poll's results. The decision is unlawful on such a serious level that it is cause for concern regarding the rule of law in Israel. One can only hope that Netanyahu and Steinitz will be able to admit the mistake and stop ignoring public will."

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