Tuesday, August 21, 2007


I can pretty much guarantee that what I'm about to write is by far the most conservative thing you'll ever hear me say, but I really believe it: what I think the United States needs is a national sense of unity and shared experience, which I think can only be truly achieved through mandatory military service.

Yes, you heard me right, folks. I think the United States of America should implement a mandatory 2-year service requirement for all citizens when they turn 18. I think our country is so big, with so many cultures and regions and lifestyles, that it's almost impossible to feel or experience any sense of common heritage or experience anymore, and more than anything, I think that's what we need in the times we are living.

Obviously, that doesn't mean I think everyone should have to go fight in wars; that would be ridiculous. I know I, for one, wouldn't last 20 minutes in a real military situation now, much less when I was 18! And there are lots of people who would be physically incapable of serving in war. But there are other ways to serve: you could work in VA hospitals, you could be a driver, you could work in schools, you could go do service work in other countries like Africa. The possibilities are endless, and if I were in charge, that's what I would do.

This is the way things are in Israel, which is where I first heard of it. I'm sure there are other countries that require this as well. Apparently, though, Israel is having a hard time getting people to finish their tours of duty, as it were, and is now making examples of celebrities who don't complete their 2 years. The pop star Ivri Lider was recently barred from performing for troops for completing only one month of his service.

But three days before a gala concert for 10,000 soldiers Sunday night, the 33-year-old star was dropped from the lineup.

The abrupt cancellation was a result of the army's disappointing call-up this summer, which yielded the fewest draftees in five years. Worried Israeli leaders are now moving to stigmatize entertainers and other celebrity role models who have failed to complete mandatory military service. Lider, who was discharged from the army after serving one month, is one of the first to feel the backlash.

"The fact that those who do not serve in the military can become cultural heroes is worrying," Maj. Gen. Elazar Stern, the army's personnel director, told a recent meeting of state broadcast regulators.

Boy, it really worries me to say this, but I feel like what they're doing is right. And I love that in Israel, even celebrities have to do it. No one is immune.

Israeli pop singer Ivri Lider

No comments: