With all of the conflict occurring between Israelis and Palestinians, domestic conflict within both countries is seldom discussed. I’m sure we are all well aware that internal conflict exists, but it doesn’t seem like that much of a problem considering the despondent affairs that are occurring internationally.
Well, for the Haredi—the ultra-Orthodox adherents of Judaism—the domestic discord is quite serious.
Up until recently, ultra-Orthodox Jews have been exempt from the country’s military conscription laws. However, with the secular population of Israel experiencing the direct effects of high unemployment rates and a growing population, the Israeli government (the Knesset) buckled under the pressures of the country’s majority and passed an unprecedented law that requires the Haredi (men) to serve in the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF). The Equal Service Bill as it was called, aimed to draft large numbers of yeshiva students and reverse the exemption that is nearly as old as the state itself…
From the beginning of the established state of Israel, there had been a law that protected boys studying in the yeshivas and preserving the Jewish faith from going to war. At one point, right before the turn of the century, there was a compromise between the IDF and the Haredi population in which time a specialized, Orthodox battalion was formed by a team of rabbis and called the Netzah Yehuda. But, an agreement that was supposed to cater to 400 young men, now serves as a loophole for 6,000 young men that many secular Jews view as “borderline parasitic”. Nonetheless, the Israeli government still considers the Netzah Yehuda a great success in integrating the Haredi and IDF/secular communities.
What happened next…?
After the law was passed, the Ultra Orthodox community began to protest…. Big time.
“We argue that they (the IDF) don’t really need to draft these soldiers, but they want to draft the Haredi in order to extinct them” said Yoelish Kraus, the unofficial operations director for the EDA Haredit. By extinction, it is not to be implied that the Haredit thinks the IDF wants the Haredi killed, but rather that the army will slowly deteriorate the Haredi faith and eventually lead those who serve into secularity—it is similarly argued that 20 percent of young men lose their religion while serving in the army.
“I won’t fight in the army, and my kids wont either. We are not Israelis. We’re Jews… The state of Israel and the Israelites are two separate things,” Kraus said.
However, the Israeli government is not backing down. As of now, their goals revolve around a target number—5,200 Haredi enlistees buy the year 2017—one that will rise each year. If the benchmarked target is not reached, it will become a mandate backed up with criminal sanctions for draftees.
What do you think of this new law? Is it fair for the government to force the Haredi into the IDF? Or, do you think it should be a matter or equal conscription? I appreciate all thoughts and opinions!
Sources: http://www.vice.com/vice-news/israels-other-religious-war-the-ultra-orthodox-versus-the-idf-100 http://www.timesofisrael.com/shunning-taboo-hundreds-of-ultra-orthodox-seek-to-volunteer-for-idf/ http://www.timesofisrael.com/bill-to-draft-ultra-orthodox-into-idf-passes-knesset/ http://www.independent.co.uk/news/world/middle-east/ultraorthodox-jews-are-resisting-new-laws-which-force-them-to-join-the-army-9249508.html