“The Councils of Torah Sages demand from the authorities that they immediately cancel the decisions of the [Knesset enlistment] committee [providing for] the coercive drafting into military service of yeshiva students, and call on all yeshiva students not to enlist to the army in any way whatsoever, not to surrender to any blandishments and punishments, and not to cooperate with the army induction center for haredim, but instead to toil in their studies day and night.…"
Haredi Rabbis Ban All Yeshiva Students From Serving In The IDF Under Any Circumstances
Shmarya Rosenberg • FailedMessiah.com
The councils of Torah sages of each ‘mainstream’ haredi political faction – the Ashkenazi non-haredi Degel Hatorah faction, the hasidic Agudat Yisrael faction (which together with Degel HaTorah makes up the United Torah Judaism Party), and the Sefardi Shas Party – issued a joint statement late Monday, the Jerusalem Post reported, prohibiting all haredi yeshiva students from serving in the IDF.
“The Councils of Torah Sages demand from the authorities that they immediately cancel the decisions of the [Knesset enlistment] committee [providing for] the coercive drafting into military service of yeshiva students, and call on all yeshiva students not to enlist to the army in any way whatsoever, not to surrender to any blandishments and punishments, and not to cooperate with the army induction center for haredim, but instead to toil in their studies day and night.
“We tremble before the terrible desecration of God’s name and the insult to the Torah that this matter has caused.
“We are fearful of the results and are pained by the ongoing harassment of the Torah world.”
The statement was issued after the first joint meeting of the three councils of sages ever.
The non-hasidic Ashkenazi haredi rebel faction headed by Rabbi Shmuel Auerbach has already banned his followers from serving in the IDF and the anti-Zionist Edah Haredit faction has never served in the IDF or had any formal relationship with the state.
Member of Knesset Mordechai Yogev of the Zionist Orthodox HaBayit HaYehudi party, who reportedly sat as an alternate on the Knesset committee that wrote th new proposed universal draft bill, told the Post the joint statement was a “natural reaction to efforts of Yesh Atid to coercively draft haredi men.” The issue of criminal leveling criminal charges on haredim who dodge the draft had to be rethought, Yogev added.
Reform Rabbi Uri Regev, who heads the religious freedom nonprofit Hiddush, opposes criminal charges for haredi draft dodgers. Regev lashed out at Yair Lapid’s Yesh Atid Party, which had forced the coalition to include criminal charges in the proposed bill.
“The heads of Yesh Atid succeeded in recording a historic achievement in uniting the rabbinical councils against enlistment. The achievement is especially impressive given that even the haredi politicos know there is no chance that the law will be implemented,” Regev reportedly said. He also called on Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to “regain his composure and act as the responsible adult in the government, and force through the imposition of economic sanctions instead of the ridiculous delusion of criminal sanctions.”
As the proposed bill is now structured, very few actual haredi yeshiva students would be drafted against their will. Instead, the haredi quota would primarily be filled by ba’al teshuvas, ex-haredim, haredi shabbabnikim (‘bums’ who either were expelled from haredi yeshivas or walked out of them and who now roam the streets in packs), and Chabad hasidim (who are not part of the mainstream haredi community and its negotiating process).
But the proposed bill as it is now worded would allow many haredim to leave yeshiva in their early- to mid-20s, and would also lead to many haredim joining the workforce in some fashion, things haredi rabbinic leaders feel would lessen the authenticity of the haredi community – and haredi rabbis’ hold on their followers.
They also see this ban as a way to hurt Yesh Atid and its hated chairman, Yair Lapid – something Netanyahu would also very much like to do.
If criminal charges are removed from the proposed bill and Yesh Atid leaves the coalition – as it has threatened to do in response – that would open the door to bring the haredi political parties into the coalition – a goal those haredi politicians share with Netanyahu.
The rabbis joint statement. Please click to enlarge:
[Hat Tip for the letter: Burich.]