November 9, 2023
This Saturday, November 11, Americans will observe Veteran’s Day at a time when the U.S. is investing billions of dollars to support our allies in Ukraine and Israel. There are 16.2 million veterans in America, representing 6.4% of the U.S. population over age 18. The U.S. miliary is entirely voluntary—it’s been 50 years since the country last had a draft, on Dec. 7, 1972.
Given conflicts in both Russia/Ukraine and the Middle East, let’s look at how Russia and Israel view military service from a data perspective. Russia has been drafting its citizens twice a year, in the fall and spring, plus unannounced drafts to press hundreds of thousands into compulsory military service for the war with Ukraine. This has resulted in a mass exodus of military-aged men attempting to avoid the Russian draft.
Israel has had compulsory military service for the country’s Jewish, Druze, and Circassian populations since its founding in 1948. Arab Israelis serve in the military voluntarily. The Israel Defense Forces had 169,500 active troops in 2022 (2% of the population of 9 million). Following the terrorist attack on October 7, 2023, Israel called up 360,000 reservists representing 4% of the population. Every single reservist showed up when called. Rather than an exodus, like in Russia, Israel has experienced a massive influx of its citizens abroad with El Al airlines (Israel’s national airline and the only commercial airline flying into Israel currently) announcing last week that they had flown 350,000 Israelis back home. In the weeks following the attack, 48.6% of the Israeli population engaged in volunteer service to support rescue and recovery efforts including the displacement of 250,000 citizens from impacted areas.
The contrast between the Russian exodus vs. Israel’s massive in-migration is stark; and it demonstrates each country’s broader feelings about the values they hold and the threat they are under.
I’m proud that America stands by our allies abroad now and always. Thank you to our veterans for their service.