JERUSALEM (VINnews) — The Knesset passed the first reading of the Security Forces Law, which allows the army to cancel the exemption granted to religious girls from army service if it can be proven that they submitted false declarations regarding their religious status.
Israeli law allows religious girls to be exempted from army service by declaring that they are religious, but in recent years the army has employed investigators who follow the lifestyle of the girls and determine whether they are truly religious. The current bill would grant the army the legal right to cancel the exemptions in cases where the army has proof that the declaration was false.
The bill passed by a majority of 55 to 50, which for the first time in Israel’s history included the support of Arab MKs, who normally abstain from any votes relating to the army and security issues. During the course of the Knesset debate, MK Betzalel Smotrich (Religious Zionism) said that the requirement for females to serve in the army should be abolished altogether and should be on a voluntary basis. Smotrich added that the “procedure which girls who declare religiosity have to go through to receive their exemption in the last few years is humiliating and shameful. The army employs private investigators who track the private lifestyles of the girls including spying on their Facebook pages and pictures and creating an illogical barometer for religiosity.”
MK Moshe Gafni (UTJ) also attacked the bill, stating that “The Chief Rabbinate Council which is the highest halachic authority in Israel said that this [army service for girls] is absolutely forbidden. Why are they bringing this bill now? For what? To check whether she made kiddush or not, or if she is traditional? Is this a democratic country? It is strictly prohibited to serve in the army. The girl says that it is forbidden for her to enlist. The whole basis of this bill is illegal it is against the decision of the Chief Rabbinate.”
Shas leader Aryeh Deri said that “they establish committees with private investigators, enter the most private places. When it comes to registering converts for citizenship, they don’t do this even though we know that some of them do not keep Torah and mitzvos, but when it comes to this you are suddenly in favor of investigating. In a proper country the whole matter of female enlistment would be voluntary. I’m sorry that the Ra’am party is joining this even though it contradicts its own ideology.”