Wednesday, November 24, 2010

even israelis are not safe from israeli army


There is a reason why no one messes around with the Israelis. Israli Military (IDF), ranking amongst the finest in the world, is known well for its strict conscription, as much as it is famous for its exploits. Considering the volatility of the region and a constant state of threat from hostile neighbours, Israel too has its share of shirkers, who go to great lengths to avoid the compulsory military service.

One of the most popular modus operandi used by the draft dodgers involves an Israeli law that exempts ultra-orthodox men and women from conscription. What may come as a surprise to most, considering the portrayal of Israel's human rights record in popular media, the Arab minority is also exempt from compulsory military service. This law is being leveraged by young men and women wanting to skip the mandatory military service. However, they've learnt the hard way that fooling IDF isn't easy.

The IDF has concentrated their efforts on women who claim to belong to the ultra-orthodox sects to avoid duty. Religious women are excused if they issue a signed declaration embracing a strict religious lifestyle, a total abstinence from non-kosher foods, and by taking an oath to avoid travel on sabbat. The military has 60 days to challenge the declaration. If successfully refuted, the women have to join active duty.

The military arm of Israel has set up six investigation offices to weed out the pretenders from Facebook. Such methods have led to exposes like instances where one woman seeking immunity under the ultra-orthodox provision was caught with a Facebook photo of her eating in a non-Kosher restaurant. Women posting photos in 'immodest clothing' not characteristic of the unorthodox groups, were also identified.

IDF has developed ingenious means to verify such undertakings. The investigators issued fake party invitations scheduled on sabbath to individuals under investigation. Those who took the bait by responding with "Attending" or "Might Be Attending" were then summoned for explanation. Issuing a false undertaking is a punishable offense, but no one has been convicted so far. That's why boys and girls in Israel find it prudent to quietly eat their spinach and perform their mandatory military service without complaining. Because the big brother is always watching.