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Israeli Cabinet Approves Bill to Draft Orthodox Jews

July 8, 2013

The cabinet on Sunday, July 7 passed the Share the Burden Bill, which calls for the drafting of Orthodox young men. The cabinet voted 14 in favor of the bill and four abstentions.

Abstaining was Minister Uri Ariel (Bayit Yehudi), who feels that while he has succeeded in taking a “bad bill and converting it to one that enjoys agreement”, he explains there are still some changes needed.

Also opposing the bill were the three cabinet ministers of the Yisrael Beitenu party, Yitzchak Aharonovich (Public Security), Yair Shamir (Agriculture) and Dr. Uzi Landau (Tourism). Yisrael Beitenu objects to the law, stating it does not represent ‘sharing the burden’ since it does not compel Israel’s Arab citizens to serve in the military or national service.

Speaking to Israel Radio following the vote, MK (Yahadut Hatorah) Meir Porush condemned the vote and the “hypocrisy of the cabinet and coalition”.

“I would like to see the big heroes of the coalition compel Israeli Arabs to serve”, stating that bill is discriminatory and in no way represents equality in Israel. Porush highlighted it is not about equality but it is about attacking the chareidim, and this is now clear to all.

“It is a black day for the Jewish People and the nation” he added, accusing Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu of “remaining in power by taking a free ride on the back of Lapid.”

At the start of the meeting Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu stated, “Today, after 65 years, we are submitting for Cabinet approval the outline on increasing equality in sharing the burden. We will enact this change gradually while considering the special needs of the chareidi population. Our objective is two-fold: Integrating young chareidim into IDF and national service and, no less important, integrating them into the labor force.

“I would like to thank the members of the committee on increasing equality in sharing the burden led by Minister Yaakov Peri, who did excellent work; you are truly worthy of all praise. I attribute great importance to integrating Israeli Arabs in sharing the burden and while the proposed outline refers to this issue, in my opinion it is still not complete and we will need to continue dealing with the issue.”

The bill now goes to the Knesset for a vote.

Our comment:

The comparison between the Orthodox and the Israeli Arabs is very appropriate. Like the Arabs, the Orthodox are a group that lived in the Holy Land prior to the state and did not sympathize with its creation. Like the Arabs, the Orthodox mark Israeli Independence day as a day of mourning, not celebration, and do not support the existence of the army.

Unfortunately, over the last 65 years there have been different sets of rules for the Orthodox and for the Israeli Arabs. The Arabs were never expected to serve in the army and fight against their own brothers; they are completely exempt and permitted to work. The Orthodox, on the other hand, though no less opposed to the state, were not granted total exemption. They were only granted deferment as long as they remain in a yeshiva, a Torah academy. Consequently, the Orthodox remain students in these academies for life and are not permitted to work. The financial suffering born by their families as a result is unimaginable. The government, for their part, realizes that their preventing the Orthodox from working has damaged their economy.

But instead of taking the sensible step of permitting the Orthodox to work, support their families and live as a separate community under their state like the Arabs, they have now deepened this discrimination and passed a bill compelling the Orthodox to join the army. Somehow, they expect the Orthodox to violate their own principles, their own Torah, their own conscience and fight in an army that G-d does not permit. Somehow, they feel that the same Orthodox who let themselves be burned and slaughtered in past centuries rather than say even one word to betray their principles, will suddenly now submit to the new Israeli law and throw the Torah away.

Of course, we know what will happen. If they are going to enforce this law they will have to build big jails and lock up 50,000 young men, most of them with wives and many children. Their families will struggle even more than before. The Zionists’ own economy will suffer even more. Some of those threatened by the draft will seek residence in other countries, producing a massively embarrassing situation for the Israeli government. The Zionists, who pride themselves on being the safe haven for Jews around the world, who celebrate every El Al plane packed with new immigrants, will be faced with the spectacle of the most authentic Jews, those who actually believe in Judaism and keep the Torah, fleeing their country, clutching their Torah scrolls, rabbis with their students, mothers with their children. It will be a scene reminiscent of the medieval Jewish expulsions of Europe. It will show the world who the Zionists really are, and above all it will be a sanctification of G-d’s name, because it will wash clean the Orthodox of any association they may have had, in the eyes of the world, with Zionism and the State of Israel.