"If anyone thinks that, as a result of this law, anyone will close their Gemara book and stop studying Torah, they are sadly mistaken. We don't pay attention to politicians who have turned the topic into a political agenda. We will not forgive Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the chairman of the Likud party, who enjoyed our sweeping support for decades, or Naftali Bennett, the chairman of Habayit Hayehudi, which is considered a religious party that includes students of Torah.”
Here are a few quotes from critics of the new bill to draft haredi yeshiva students into Israel's military approved by the cabinet yesterday reported by Israel Hayom:
"The decision is a black mark on the State of Israel, which is turning into the only country in the world where Torah study is not legitimate. The students studying Torah are the ones protecting the entire world, as the prophet said: 'If My covenant be not with day and night, if I have not appointed the ordinances of heaven and earth' (Jeremiah 33:25). They are the foundation on which the Jewish people exist.
"If anyone thinks that, as a result of this law, anyone will close their Gemara book and stop studying Torah, they are sadly mistaken. We don't pay attention to politicians who have turned the topic into a political agenda. We will not forgive Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, the chairman of the Likud party, who enjoyed our sweeping support for decades, or Naftali Bennett, the chairman of Habayit Hayehudi, which is considered a religious party that includes students of Torah.” – Member of Knesset Rabbi Moshe Gafni of the Ashkenazi haredi United Torah Judaism Party.
“The approval of the conscription law is a continuation of the ongoing rule of annihilation, whose aim is to destroy Torah study in Israel. Anyone who thinks that coercion, decrees and threats will defeat the students of the Torah is very wrong. Look back to our people's long history and you will learn that in fact the opposite is the case.…[this government is a] government that hates the religion of Israel.
"Anyone taking part in this government of hatred and destruction will get their punishment. The students of the holy yeshivot will obviously prefer to go to prison, sustain financial penalties and endure any punishment rather than stop studying Torah." – Chairman of the Ashkenazi haredi United Torah Judaism Party, Member of Knesset Rabbi Yaakov Litzman.
"We agree that everyone should guard the country but we also think that each one has his own way to guard the country. Maybe most of the residents in Israel believe in the Torah and in religious rituals but we, who do really believe in it, we think that a page of Jewish religious scripture is like a weapon. Whether you like it or not, this is the reality.” – Haredi yeshiva student Yisrael Rosenthal.
"It is not clear why the press is fooled by Lapid's spin into reporting that an 'equality of sharing the burden' law has been passed. The proposal that the cabinet approved today was a decision to defer the conscription of haredim by another four years. Mark our words: In July 2014 we will not see any more haredim enlisting than there were in 2012." – The Israeli Forum for Citizen Equal Rights and Obligations, which is an NGO that promotes mandatory military service for all citizens.
"To pass this law about the [national defense] burden sharing is totally outrageous. In a democratic state it's impossible. If there is a reliable person who is not a true democrat and does not believe in democracy then he can do it, like any dictatorship. But it's clearly not a democratic act when it goes against the opinions, the ideology and the faith of other people." – Haredi yeshiva student “Yossi.” [An overwhelming majority of the Israeli people support drafting haredi yeshiva students.]
"Even the leaders of the haredi population understand that it is not good for their community to continue being the poorest population in Israel, and that the yeshivot are turning from institutions of brilliant Torah study into safe havens from the authorities. They feel the pressure from their younger generation in a much more powerful way than we do, that they can't go on like this, but they are bound by their own rhetoric.…Three years from now, 70 percent of the haredim will have enlisted, which is the national average for all Israeli citizens. We don't want the haredim to feel like they are hated. You can't say that [we hate them] when all we want of them is the same thing we expect of our own children." – Finance Minister Yair Lapid, who Yesh Atid Party is the main driver of the bill. Lapid also noted that the bill didn’t do everything that he and his party wanted it to do, but instead of acting like “Teheran” and holding out for all or nothing, he and his party agreed to compromise.