This is a pragmatic ruling given the Orthodox are increasing as a proportion of the population but are not military defending the nation.
The policy of open-ended deferment dates to 1949 when Israel’s founding prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, exempted 400 religious students from military service in an effort to restore the tradition of yeshiva scholarship, which had been nearly destroyed during the Holocaust. The issue has since become tendentious, with the number of those who have been exempted by now amounting to tens of thousands.
Israel’s ultra-Orthodox sector makes up about 10 percent of the population of more than 8.5 million but it is rapidly increasing, with its members typically marrying young and having large families. Worry and anger has been growing among many Israelis who fear that the economy will become unsustainable in the coming decades without radical change, in part because many ultra-Orthodox men prefer full time Torah study over work and rely on government stipends.
New York Times:
Israel’s Supreme Court on Tuesday struck down the current government arrangement allowing for mass exemptions for ultra-Orthodox Jews from compulsory military service, calling it discriminatory and unconstitutional. The ruling redraws the battle lines over an issue that has long roiled Israeli society.
The impassioned debate over military exemptions for strictly Orthodox Jews engaged in full-time Torah study goes to the heart of the struggle for the future character of Israel.
In a country where most Jewish men and women are conscripted at 18, and where the military is hallowed as a social equalizer and a people’s army protecting Israel from threats on its borders, past attempts to reduce the scope of exemptions and create a more equitable sharing of the national burden only seem to have underscored deep social divisions.
From CIW NEWS Contributor
Israel (IL) is estimated to have a population of 8.6 million with a growth rate during 2010-2015 of 1.7% pa.
At the same rate of change, in five years' time its population will increase by 0.8 million.