I was having a conversation with a co-worker about the ultra-orthodox doing, or not doing, army service in Israel. I pointed out a few statistics for which they responded in shock, worth sharing…
Government statistics say ~8,000 young ultra-orthodox men are eligible for service in Israel every year. Their reports also tell us that 2,000 are doing service in Netzach Yehuda / Nachal Charedi, and a service announcement last week told us that 1,200 are in “national service” programs. Another 500 are in Shachar long term army service programs.
2,000 + 1,200 + 500 = 46% of available young men providing service to their nation. Since the national rate is 70%, the national argument in Israel is actually over 26% of the available young men not doing service due to religious and cultural reasons.
(BTW, of Arab Israeli citizens, less than 10% do army service and less than 20% do national service – but no one is complaining about their lack of commitment.)
But wait, my calculation has an error! That’s 8,000 young ultra-orthodox men eligible every year. Since the normal service period is 3 years, that 24,000 young men.
The new service law allows 1,800 ultra-orthodox young men to be excused from service for religious/moral studies per year. So 5,400 are excused, plus our 2,000 in infantry, 500 in intelligence and hi-tech maintenance, and 1,200 in national service.
5,400 + 2,000 + 1,200 + 500 = 38%
So in this calculation, we’re arguing over 32% of the religious young men.
Not 90% are avoiding service, not 75% are avoiding service. Depending on how you look at it, either 26% or 32%.
And that changes the conversation significantly. However, everyone wants to pretend we’re talking about 95% and have a culture war.
Politics and attacks on the “other”. It’s never pleasant, and rarely involves any look at the truth or even statistics.