Could Ulra-Orthodox Conscription issue bring down the Israeli Government?

Israeli Finance Minister Yair Lapid, leader of the centrist, secular Yesh Atid party, has threatened to withdraw from the government of Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu unless a proposed bill is passed into law that would conscript most young men from the Haredi or Ultra-Orthodox community into the Israeli army. Many in the far right wing Likud Party are reluctant to takes this step.

In parliamentary systems such as that of Israel, the prime minister has to step down if he can’t maintain 51% support in parliament, so Lapid’s threat is credible and might actually end Netanyahu’s rule. Since Netanyahu’s government backs grabbing more Palestinian land on the West Bank and furiously resists a genuine peace process, for his government to fall would perhaps allow a genuine peace process to be pursued.

The Haredim, who devote themselves to studying the Bible, were a small group at Israel’s founding and were given an exemption from serving in the military. Now, they are some 8 percent of Israelis. Lapid is willing to see 1800 Torah scholars a year given exemptions, but not the current tens of thousands.

Aljazeera English reports:

The Haredim are for the most part not Zionists, insofar as they reject the creation of a secular state by dint of purely human effort. They do not want to assimilate to Israel’s secular norms.

A couple of weeks ago, tens of thousands of Haredim protested in Tel Aviv against the plans to make their young men serve in the military.

Euronews reported at the time:

What is odd is that American television news mostly ignored the huge Haredi protest. American news endangers us by declining to cover important subjects about the rest of the world.

The Ultra Orthodox also feel persecuted for their belief in gender segregation and reducing women’s role in the public sphere. The USG Open Source Center translates from Arutz Sheva:

“Right vs Political Establishment

… AG’s Action Against Women’s Exclusion ‘Grave Mistake,’ Ultra-Orthodox Feel ‘Persecuted’ “The Attorney General’s Bylaws: Malice Towards Haredim (ultra-Orthodox sector)” by Rabbi Ya’aqov Medan of the Har Etzyon Yeshiva, posted in Arutz Sheva on 13 May, says:

“Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein has ordered stronger measures to prevent what is termed the ‘exclusion of women in public places, and was rewarded with kudos from Minister Limor Livnat, among others.” “The attorney general is making a grave mistake. This has to be said loudly and clearly. He has not differentiated between the honor of women” an important issue a” and female modesty, a civil right and religious requirement of anyone, male or female, who believes in the G-d of Israel or in other religions, for that matter.” “The haredi community now feels it is a community being persecuted for its faith by the powers-that-be. The community is now barricading itself from the outside world even more than before, and any progress in the gradual mingling of the haredi sector into Israeli society and the IDF is in danger of disappearing. Voices calling for a complete cut off from Israeli society will increase in volume” and after the attorney general’s decisions, they will be in the right.”

Posted in Uncategorized | 6 Responses | Print |

6 Responses

  1. Yair Lapid and his father, Yossi, were no friends of the ultra-orthodox community within Israel.

    The ultra-orthodox community in Israel has long been the allies of Likud and this hasbeen a mutually beneficial relationship for decades.

    Yair Lapid would likely pursue a two-state solution that is more realistic than that proposed by Netanyahu and his party, Yesh Atid strongy supports peace initiatives with the Palestinians.

    Expect the PM to give in to Lapid to keep his position.

    • ◾Young ultra-Orthodox couples, with little wealth and plans for large families, “are desperate for inexpensive apartments….At the end of the 1980s, the government began using that [desperation to draw them] into the settlement enterprise.” In 1990, 350 ultra-Orthodox settlers moved into Beitar Illit and for apartments paid “$60,000, with the government providing a $50,000 interest-free mortgage. Four years later, the first residents arrived in what would become the town of Modi’in Illit, east of Tel Aviv. The two communities grew faster than any other settlements in the West Bank. By the end of 2009, they were also the two largest settlements, with a total of 81,000 residents…[Unsurprisingly,] the internal growth of the communities was stunning….The government designated additional developments for [ultra-Orthodox] within settlements elsewhere in the West Bank. Virtually every extended [ultra-Orthodox] family in Israel now has members living” in occupied Palestinian territory. Therefore, they have “a vested interest in the territories” and have been converted to the extreme right by government action. (Yet, it must be added that the ultra-Orthodox party Shas has indicated a willingness to trade land for peace.) link to

  2. Whatever their supposed grievances, the haredim also are freeloaders who don’t pay taxes and yet receive massive government handouts to support their families. Ben Gurion gave them an exemption after the Germans decimated them during WW2. The idea was to allow them to repopulate. Consider that one as mission accomplished. Now, it’s time to turn the page.

    What’s more, the haredim – outside of naturei karta – are no friends of the liberals or the idea of land for peace. Increasingly, they have moved right on the political spectrum.

  3. ◾It is important to note that in 1948 the great bulk of Jewish Israelis were confident that religious Jews, already marginal to the state, would only continue to diminish in significance. (In fact, after World War II the European center of ultra-Orthodox “culture was gone. In Palestine, their schools were few and starved for funds…”) This is one reason Ben-Gurion accepted several compromises with the religious parties. “No one imagined, for instance, that by financing [ultra-Orthodox] schools, the state would transform ultra-Orthodox society” and so augment its power.
    ◾In 2000, the newspaper Ha’aretz published pictures showing ultra-Orthodox men at work in New York. “For the Israeli audience, photos of gainfully employed [ultra-Orthodox] men — a private detective, a truck driver,…a welder — were news on the level of man bites elephant.”
    ◾Considering the effects of National-Religious Orthodox young men in the IDF, progressives may want to ponder the implications of bringing in the ultra-Orthodox.
    link to

  4. Ironically, America’s reactionary religious fringe wants all its boys to infiltrate our military. Wonder what they have planned?

    The logical solution is to end the draft. But that does not necessarily produce a more liberal society. Andrew Bacevich, certainly a critic of American militarism, noted in his works the complex ironies caused by the end of the US draft. A bourgeoise so glad to dump its military responsibilities onto poor whites in effect became the hostage of that gratitude, afraid to criticize anything the military did as it became more and more insulated from democratic safeguards.

  5. The Haredi will ‘…barricade themselves from Israeli society…’ Yeah,right. Right up until Israeli society stops the welfare checks and all the ‘yeshiva bochers’ have to stop dovining and start working!

    Regardless, while Israeli society is tearing itself apart internally, it gives Palestinians the opportunity to further organize and become more politically effective.

Comments are closed.