The big news out of Israel right now is that the Supreme Court, in a close vote, overturned the Tal law which allowed Chareidim to avoid being drafted to the army. Although the situation is temporarily in limbo there exists the very real possibility that the Chareidi community will lose its treasured position within Israeli society and expected to contribute to the defence of the country on more than a limited voluntary basis.
Naturally the secular population in Israel is ecstatic. The idea that Chareidim do not help defend Israel while benefiting from the security the army provides has always been bitter for them to deal with. Certainly one can understand the frustration of secular society in this issue. And along with this has come the call to begin drafting Chareidim as soon as possible.
I would like to ask: is this feasible?
Keep in mind that for almost three generations now Chareidim have taken it for granted that they do not have to serve in the army. From its origin as a casual gift from David Ben Gurion to the Chazon Ish, zt"l, this exemption has morphed into one of the articles of faith that Chareidim live by. Asking them to serve in the army is like asking them to eat pork. Chas v'shalom you should ever think they would want to do so! Can one expect this community to simply roll over and say "Well it was a nice ride while it lasted. Where do we sign up?"
What's more, given the recent proclivity towards violence the community has shown over the last few years, is it not likely that any attempt to institute a draft of Chareidi youth will be met with violent outbursts that will lead only to more public chilul HaShem? And if Chareidi boys are forcibly drafted, how will the army cope with their passive-aggressive demands on everything from who teaches them to what kind of mehadrin food they'll eat? No, any attempt to draft Chareidim en masse, Tal law or no Tal law, will be a disaster for both sides. It will only entrench Chareidi hatred of Israel and the army while flaming the fans of intolerance from the secular side.
Instead, consider this proposal. Right now one need to do army service of some kind in order to get documentation necessary to work in the economy of Israel. Why not change this slightly? For Chareidim learning is nowadays the sole activity they seem permitted to do. In order to maintain this lifestyle they need the money from the coffers of the State. Would it be so hard to apply the general rule to this population based on their specific need? To wit: you want to sit and learn on our dime? Do army service. You don't want to do army service? Fine, sit and learn but we're not paying for it.
No, it's not the perfect compromise. It does suggest perpetuating the "learn, don't earn" culture that is slowly pushing the Chareidi community into crisis but it does take a step towards encouraging a slight integration of the Chareidi sector into the army. And if it does encourage a few of them, that progress is something that can be built on.