Conscription May Be Roadblock to Peace

The conscription law in Israel may be contributing to militarizing the youth in Israel. Young Israelis begin their adulthood serving in the Israeli Defense Force, facilitating a never-ending perception of Palestinians as enemies throughout their adult years. Subordination becomes second nature at such a young age that these soldiers are engaging in combat activities without an established moral foundation. This could lead to overzealous soldiers competing for kills much like they would in a game of Call of Duty, without fully understanding that those “kills” have ended real human lives. Moreover, it is uncertain whether or not veterans will be able to treat Arabs as non-threats after completing service. Some groups in Israel exist today that promote peace, though their numbers are few in comparison to those who remain hostile to the Arab inhabitants of the region.

The conscription policy has led to a neverending loop of violence by inherently instigating fear and aggression on each side of the conflict. This fear is not limited to military personnel, as it spreads through the civilian population as well. Last year, military conscription was extended to include Haredi Yeshiva students, who were exempted for religious reasons. There was little coverage of those from the Haredi community who protested, even when 40 were arrested by the Israeli police. The automatic exemption from conscription for Haredi ultra Orthodox Jews was removed in March 2015. As Harriet Salem reported for Vice, “Under the controversial legislation, the number of ultra-Orthodox men conscripted to the [Israeli Defense Force] will gradually increase each year until 2017.” Salem quotes Yaakov Litzman, a member of parliament for the United Torah Judaism party, who described the extension of conscription as a “continuation of the ongoing rule of annihilation, whose aim is to destroy Torah study in Israel.”

An infinite supply of fresh new faces in the Israeli Defense Force instigates fear amongst Palestinians. The fact that even more Israeli youth, even those who wish to study the Torah and practice peace, must serve in the military essentially creates a culture where future generations of Israelis are being trained to view Palestinians as threats.