“Chairman of the Keshev Committee, Yohanan Plesner, tasked with creating recommendations to replace the Tal Law, presented the findings of his now-disbanded committee Wednesday morning, which included a goal of 80 percent haredi participation in military and civilian service within four years and the imposition of personal sanctions on those who do not serve.The report recommends applying a principle of “service for all,” which would apply to the ultra-Orthodox haredi population and later to the Israeli-Arab population.” ( Jerusalem Post, July 4, 2012)
Israel is a limited democracy, meaning that rule by the people is not available to all, nor does the majority always control political decisions which determine the well-being of the whole of its society. This is okay. As believers in Yeshua/Jesus, such a situation does not always ‘help’ us, but it does help us keep our trust and hope in God and not in man.
The God of Israel, who is also the Creator of the Universe, shows us repeatedly through the Bible and in history that He accomplishes His sovereign purposes through a ‘few’ rather than the ‘many’. Israel is the prime example of this, being chosen not for any virtue of her own as individuals or as a national group, nor for being by any means large in number; but, rather, simply because of His love and covenantal faithfulness to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, and because of Israel being the fewest in number. God’s sovereignty would be displayed through the littleness and weakness of ‘people power’.
When it comes to military service, it would be folly to require every able-bodied man (or woman, when necessary) to serve. There are exceptions given in the Law of Moses concerning fitness for military service, and for life circumstances that allow for exemptions. (Dt 20:5-8) Also in the teachings of Yeshua and of His apostles, there are instructions which allow for non-combative service. Those for whom these exemptions and exceptions are applicable have reason for not being required to serve their country in a full military capacity.
In the Bible we see that the Priests would lead the Israeli army in battles, but with trumpets, not with carnal weapons. Their study of the Book of the Law was not to exempt them from defending their land and compatriots, but their service was rendered by maintaining dependency upon YHVH, and not upon the military forces own abilities and power.
From its reestablishment as a sovereign state following the War of Independence in 1948-49, Israel has not required the Arab populations to be enlisted. Even though some Arab groups have given up part of their lives to serve their country Israel within the military forces, the decision not to make Arab service compulsory was two-fold: 1) Israel is the national homeland of the Jewish people; the Jewish people will defend it and those who live within her borders; 2) Israel recognized the dilemma of the Arabs living in Israel: all of Israel’s enemies are Arabized nations. Israel did not want Arabs to have to fight against their own relatives, which could often be the case; nor could Israel risk the ‘loyalty test’ of its Arab citizens. What Israel would want is gratitude for the benefits of being ‘Israeli’, and for being protected along with everyone else who love their country. But the burden of defending the nation would fall upon the Jews.
Not all citizens should be required to serve in the military. All citizens of a certain age range and at a certain time of their life should be required to serve their country in some form of constructive national service established by law for all, with the Biblical exceptions for exemption included.