Several hundred Orthodox men demonstrated outside the IDF’s Prison 6 in Atlit Monday morning, Dec. 9, in protest at the ongoing detention of two yeshiva students who were arrested for failing to report for military duty.
The protest was organized by the anti-Zionist Eidah Charedis communal organization, while members of Hasidic group Toldos Aharon also participated, as well as members of the Lithuanian yeshiva community, led by Rabbi Shmuel Auerbach.
The senior rabbi of the Eidah, Rabbi Yitzhak Tuvia Weiss, was in attendance at the protests, as was Rabbi Moshe Shternbuch, along with the Grand Rabbi of Toldos Aharon, Rabbi David Kahn, and several other senior rabbis.
Despite their requests, the rabbis from the Eidah were not permitted to visit the two detainees, which generated considerable consternation among the protesters, although the demonstration remained nonviolent.
Protestors held up signs saying “We will all go to prison” and declaring their willingness to “give up their lives” for the struggle against haredi enlistment to the army.
One sign held aloft by a demonstrator read “Behold I am ready and willing to give up my life and to rot in jail [in order] not to go to the impure army.”
The arrests have led to a spate of demonstrations in Jerusalem, Beit Shemesh and outside Prison 6 next to Atlit. A government bill to increase Orthodox enlistment is being reviewed in a special Knesset committee at the moment, and the panel members are expected to vote on the central components of the legislation in the coming weeks.
In solidarity with our brethren suffering under the State of Israel, we Torah Jews in America have launched a campaign of our own against this religious persecution. The first stage will consist of calling our local representatives in the Senate and House and asking them to speak up for freedom of religion in the State of Israel.
(The flyer is in Yiddish but the text for the phone call and the list of representatives are in English.)
If you see that this flyer is not circulating in your neighborhood, please print it out and place it in public places to be mezakeh es harabim.
As the Satmar Rebbe famously wrote in Vayoel Moshe 113, the Israeli politicians do not fear the protests of Jews who are under their state and subject to their control, but they do fear and are embarrassed when Jews protest in other countries and the non-Jews hear that there are Jews who are willing to put their lives on the line for the Torah. It is very possible that such protests may lead to fewer anti-religious decrees. Therefore, we cannot sit idly while the Israeli government does whatever it pleases. We must speak up!