Israeli army service is no longer seen as a privilege by many. Tomer Neuberg/Flash90
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Why Fewer Israelis Now Serve in the IDF

My generation saw IDF service as a privilege, but Israeli society is changing in worrying ways

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Before I travel into the office, I flick through the daily papers every morning and treat myself to an espresso. Recently, a report on a front page caught my eye and astonished me to the extent that I needed another espresso: “Every third conscript is not actually drafted!” An army spokesman was being quoted. Thirty-three percent of young adults (and among women actually 44 percent) are rejected for military service, for a wide variety of reasons. Some are exempt for practicing Orthodox Judaism (16 percent), some are deemed unfit psychologically (8.3), other are rejected for having a criminal record (3.8), being ill (2.5) or living abroad (2.4).

If you add to this the 15 percent of young soldiers who, for various reasons, drop out during their period of service, at the end of the day it is only every second male conscript who completes his full term of military service. These are figures that up until now I was not aware of. I knew that Orthodox Jews were exempt from military service for reasons of faith, and that there were also pacifists and others deemed unfit...

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