The enlistment of these few hundred more Haredi recruits each year is not likely to have a significant effect on the military’s manpower shortages, nor is it trumpeted by IDF officials as a potential game-changer on this front, especially as ultra-Orthodox servicemen require on average more investment per soldier by the IDF due to their community’s relatively low socioeconomic position.
There are, of course, other reasons for encouraging greater Haredi enlistment in the military beyond simple manpower numbers.
Israel remains one of the few countries around the world with near universal conscription, and the IDF is described as a “people’s army,” one that is supposed to reflect the diverse nature of Israeli society.
This is a “supreme value that will continue to serve as the basis for the IDF’s activities and to direct it,” the Defense Ministry wrote in its recommendations last year.
The military can also serve as an important economic and social springboard, offering people skills, qualifications and experiences that would be otherwise difficult or expensive to obtain — especially for a comparatively poor and economically underperforming community like Israel’s ultra-Orthodox.
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