As top rabbis declare that attempts to draft ultra-Orthodox men into the army constitute a ‘religious war,’ masses turned out for an anti-draft rally in Jerusalem. Violent confrontations broke out between a few demonstrators and police. Thirteen were injured and 10 arrested.
Around 30,000 ultra-Orthodox (Haredi) demonstrators, many more than anticipated, showed up for a mass rally against the planned induction of Yeshiva students outside the Israeli army’s recruiting offices in Jerusalem Thursday night. The government plans to revoke a special exemption given to these ultra-Orthodox yeshiva students, part of plan to “equalize of the national burden” orchestrated by Yair Lapid and Naftali Bennet. Rabbis on stage declared the government’s plans as “decrees of destruction” and said they are part of a “religious war” being fought between the regime and “believers,” calling on all good men to join the struggle.
“There is no room for compromise,” said Rabbi Israeli Zikerman, “just like you cannot compromise by having one eye plucked out instead of two. No child of ours will go to the army. We would rather go to prison.” Another speaker said that the rally should have taken place inside an army base, as “soldiers know that we are the ones protecting them with our studies and prayer.” The rally was attended almost solely by men, while a few women stood in small groups on its outskirts.
The rally was an unusual show of unity within otherwise rival sectors of the Ultra-Orthodox community: the extreme anti-statist and utterly anti-Zionist Ashkenazi faction of Edah HaChareidim was joined by one of the two larger and more mainstream Ashkenazi factions of the Misnagdim, who usually cooperate with the state, as well as by several prominent Sephardic rabbis...Read More