The Forum for Sharing the Burden is an umbrella organization whose goal is to further cooperation and joint responsibility among Israel’s citizens in confronting the security and social challenges facing the country. It supporters are drawn from among all members of Israeli society — women and men, Jews, and non-Jews (including Druze, Bedouin, Arabs, and Christians), religious and non-religious — who believe that Israel must see to it that its citizens contribute equally in shouldering the many burdens the country now confronts.
Initially the organization was established to challenge the passage of the controversial Tal Law, legislated in 2002 and recently — after a long court battle — declared unconstitutional. That law granted blanket exemptions to Ultra-Orthodox Jews from any national service, civilian or military. However, as the numbers of exemptions and citizens not drafted has grown on all fronts, the Forum has expanded its work to demand on the one hand, the drafting of all citizens and on the other, the expansion of options for national service in the civilian sector to allow for the incorporation of citizens who for religious, ethnic, health, conscience or other reasons do not or cannot serve in the armed forces. Today, thousands of young Israelis do national service in hospitals, in schools in underprivileged neighbourhoods, as fire-fighters and in the social services.
The Forum for Sharing the Burden brings together under its auspices the Union of Disabled Veterans, the organization for Free Israel (i.e., free from religious coercion) and numerous other NGOs. It sees its goal as promoting greater equality and solidarity within the country.