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ultra-orthodox

  • Letter of support for the ultra-Orthodox struggle against draft law

    Over 70 Israeli activists publish an open letter in support of the ultra-Orthodox community, as it struggles against a new law that would draft its young men into the army or national civil service. (Translated from Hebrew by Asaf Shalev) We, civilians and activists – religious, masorti (tradition-committed) and secular - wish to express our support for the struggle of the ultra-Orthodox community against forced military enlistment. There must be an end to the empty rhetoric employed by the Israeli government and its constituent parties that are calling for the "sharing of the burden" of military service, by which they…

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  • Fifty shades of black: Rabbi Ovadia Yosef’s funeral

    For a secular Jewish woman in Jerusalem, the funeral of Rabbi Ovadia Yosef presented an opportunity to cross one of the city’s strongest yet invisible boundaries – entering the bowels of the ultra-Orthodox world. By Michelle Bubis When you belong to the dwindling minority of secular Jewish progressives in Jerusalem, it’s hard to sustain more than the standard rant against religious oppression. But while flatly opposing the politics of faith that run this place may be the way to go pragmatically, it runs the risk of throwing out the human interest with the bathwater. On a day when a sheer…

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  • Israel’s ultra-Orthodox: Unorthodox partners for peace?

    History has shown that the longer the ultra-Orthodox are excluded from the Israeli coalition, the more likely are the chances that they forge alliances with left-of-centre and dovish partners. Could the Haredi parties be the ones to tip the balance in favor of a peace agreement? By Romana Michelon As of late July, the Israeli-Palestinian peace process is once again making global headlines. Largely the result of the diplomatic efforts made by US Secretary of State, John Kerry, this is the first time since 2010 that chief negotiators representing Israel and the Palestinian Authority confront one another in direct, albeit…

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  • Fanning flames of hatred in Jerusalem on Tisha B’Av

    As in years past, fundamentalists in Jerusalem are attempting to incite the ultra-Orthodox against the LGBT community. Judaism, however, is not an enemy of tolerance. By Elinor Sidi The Jerusalem LGBT (lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender) community again encountered hateful signs plastered across the city this week, as seen in the below pashkevil (Yiddish bulletin poster). We were surprised to see this once familiar relic we came to know so well from 2005 and 2006, when the city was burning with hatred. This pashkevil again quotes the same survey justifying homophobia on the basis that it is found in all…

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  • Israeli government to back law allowing discrimination against Palestinians, ultra-Orthodox

    The Israeli government's Ministerial Committee for Legislation decided today (Sunday) to back a bill by MK Yariv Levin (Likud) which will allow discrimination against Arabs and ultra-Orthodox in employment and real-estate rights. According for the suggested legislation, favoring people who served in the IDF will not be considered discrimination nor will it be challengeable in court. Since Palestinian citizens of Israel are not required to serve in the military and most ultra-Orthodox are exempted from doing so, the new bill will give employers and real-estate owners a legal way to reject Palestinian applicants. Palestinians are underrepresented in almost all areas…

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  • Supporting roles: Men stand in solidarity with Women of the Wall

    While the running debate at the Western Wall has been over women’s prayer, Jewish men have been playing a supporting role in shifting 'local custom.' Women of the Wall may be exactly what their name implies: women. But standing and praying in solidarity with them this month were several dozen Jewish men. In between police barricades and the familiar fence enclosing the women's prayer area at the Western Wall Plaza, were about 30 Jewish men – Israel-born, immigrants, secular, Reform and Conservative, young and old. They came out to support approximately 300 Jewish women – many in religious garments traditionally…

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  • Tens of thousands protest plan to draft ultra-Orthodox into Israeli army

    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…

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  • WATCH: Thousands of ultra-Orthodox protest women's prayer at Western Wall

    For the first time in 24 years, Israel Police protected nearly 500 Women of the Wall members Friday morning as they gathered at the Western Wall (Kotel) in Jerusalem for their monthly prayer service. The women were confronted by thousands of ultra-Orthodox protesters, both young girls who watched from the side and men of all ages, who acted violently towards the group of women. Protesters reportedly threw stones, water bottlers, garbage and whatever else they could in their direction, and a few were reportedly arrested. The police managed to enable a small group of 20-30 women to actually reach the women's section…

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  • Putting together Netanyahu's next coalition might be trickier than it seems

    Netanyahu will continue to serve as prime minister after the upcoming elections, but putting together a governing coalition will have significant long-term implications. The headline result of the upcoming elections in Israel, as Noam Sheizaf has thoroughly documented, is not in doubt. Benjamin Netanyahu will continue as Israel’s prime minister for another term, and will strive to maintain his policy of status quo in every area of policy. Nonetheless, there are at least two aspects of uncertainty in these elections. First, the potential for more significant changes in areas not related to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict (such as economic policy or…

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  • Anti-Zionist Neturei Karta are no friend of the Palestinian national struggle

    Neturei Karta, a small ultra-Orthodox sect that rejects the existence of a Jewish national movement, is embraced by Palestinians because of its opposition to Zionism. However, its radical approach does not serve Palestinians in their national struggle. By Eldad Levy Throughout the last round of violence in Gaza and the south of Israel, Facebook was flooded with Palestinian and Israeli support campaigns. The campaign of Neturei Karta, the most famous Hassidic sect that opposes Zionism, was among the most interesting ones. Facebook users often share pictures of Neturei Karta in their traditional black clothing, often wearing a keffiyeh decorated with Palestinian…

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  • Poll: Israelis support discrimination against Arabs, embrace the term apartheid

    A majority of the public wants the state to discriminate against Palestinians, says a poll published in Haaretz. The findings don't reflect a failure in education, as some might argue, but rather the inherently discriminatory nature of the state and the result of decades-long occupation. Gideon Levy reports in Haaretz today the findings of a survey that reveals deeply-rooted racism in Israeli society, and a desire of most of the Jewish public to practice ethnic segregation between Arabs and Jews. This is the front page story of Haaretz today. The poll was conducted by Prof. Camil Fuchs, one of the…

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  • Secular Jerusalem Jews take on growing ultra-Orthodox influence

    Secular Israelis in the West Jerusalem neighborhood of Kiryat Yovel are fighting the ultra-Orthodox's growing influence in both the area and the state. The secular say that it's a struggle for Israel's identity and that they hope to protect the country's "pluralism" and democratic space. But is their battle truly pluralistic? And how can we talk about democracy after 64 years of dispossession and discrimination? On a recent Friday night, I attended a free, outdoor concert just a few blocks from my apartment in Kiryat Yovel. As religious families settled in for a quiet Shabbat, us secular settled onto mats…

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  • Debate on draft reform moves Israel further away from democracy

    If Netanyahu's government doesn't come up with a solution, the army could soon start enlisting all of Israel's ultra-Orthodox citizens. But while it is convenient to see the debate on a universal draft as a step toward equality, Israeli militarism should be challenged by decreasing the army's size, not enlarging it.   The deadline is closing in on Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's government to cross one of the most dangerous minefields in Israeli politics – that of national draft reform. In February, the High Court struck down the current arrangement – known as the Tal Law – exempting most of…

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