Sunday, August 19, 2007

Turning our backs on the soldiers

Nowadays as the draft dodging phenomenon is breaking records, the state is deserting those who served their country by withholding a significant benefit
David Regev

According to a new regulation of the Finance Ministry, soldiers who completed their IDF service will no longer be eligible for unemployment allowance following discharge. Thousands of soldiers who use the funds in the intermediate period following the completion of their duty and the time they find a job will have to find other means for sustaining themselves.
Of the 70,000 soldiers who are released from the army every year, 24,000 – primarily from lower socio-economic backgrounds – apply for unemployment allowance. Avi Tzarfati, an activist that aids the soldiers on issues relating to Social Security, explained that the newly-released soldiers would be eligible for the allowance only after if the employment bureau could not place them in a job.

The monthly allowance in the sum of NIS 2,100 ($500) was given to about 6,600 former soldiers with the goal of assisting them in integrating into the workforce. Initially the young men and women were eligible for allowance for a period of six months, which was later shortened to three months.

Yet, a year ago, the Finance Ministry decided to cut back on this expense and cancel it. The rational was the saving of over NIS 100 million (about $24 million) a year, and the desire to "educate" the former soldiers to become self-sustaining, productive citizens.

Nitzan Harel, who was released last week from three-year active duty in the artillery corps, said: "I applied for several positions but was rejected because I didn't have any experience since I enlisted immediately after I graduated high-school. I finally found an employer who was willing to give me a chance, but many of my fiends are still looking. I don't understand this decision. After risking my life for this country for a few hundred shekels a month, I deserve this allowance."

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