Thursday, March 05, 2009

Serve in the Israeli Army and Avoid Taxes

Guest Post by A Mother in Israel

[DovBear readers might remember me as the blogger who posted extensively about "hyper-tzniut" and suspected child abuser Bruria Keren. I write about women and family issues in Orthodoxy and Israel, and environmental issues at the Israeli blog Green Prophet. Thanks to Dov Bear who kindly invited me to guest post, among other reasons because I'm female, Israeli, and "right-wingish." We'll see how well I fit any stereotypes you might have. :) My blog recently moved and can now be found at]

Haaretz printed a story this week about a judge who allowed a tax evader to avoid jail time, partly because he served in a prestigious army reserve unit and participated in the recent fighting in Gaza. (The story is not available online.)

Despite the severity of the confessed crimes, which included twelve counts of tax fraud, Judge Aviva Talmor did not sentence the defendant to jail. Instead, he received a suspended sentence both because of his health problems and because "he continues to serve in the reserves as a fighter in the military commando unit, and even earned special commendation."

While serving with valor in the army is laudable, it shouldn't exempt one from following Israel's civil laws. I'm appalled at the low standards. It seems that paying taxes is something that only the most upright citizens need to do, and those who contribute in other ways get a pass.

The judge who accepted this premise should also accept the reverse: Maybe those of us who pay taxes in full should be exempt from serving in the army, or at least in combat units. I don't see much difference between the judge's stance and that of the haredim, who maintain that sitting and learning is just as valuable as serving in the army.

DovBear readers, what say you?

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