Home / News / Israel considers removing military draft exemption privilege for ultra-Orthodox Jews, who claim they protect the country through the power of God
Israel considers removing military draft exemption privilege for ultra-Orthodox Jews, who claim they protect the country through the power of God

Israel considers removing military draft exemption privilege for ultra-Orthodox Jews, who claim they protect the country through the power of God

A committee in Israel has released a report calling for the country's Haredim — ultra-Orthodox Jews — to be drafted for military service. It has become a contentious issue that may threaten the coalition government.

The Haredim study the Torah and pray from morning to dusk, for a lifetime.  They believe that worship and duty is their purpose.

But prayer has not brought peace.

For years, the Haredim have been exempt from Israel's military draft.  The Israeli government is looking to end the special status for the religious group by requiring them to perform military service just like everyone else.

The Haredim say that they already do their part to protect the country through the power of God.  They also feel that they must be separated from the rest of society and that if thousands of Haredim men are sent to the army, the principle of separation will be harmed.

Israel's ultra-Orthodox Jewish community has grown over the decades, from just a handful to tens of thousands.

Many Israelis are resentful of the fact that ultra-Orthodox Jews live off government stipends.  Full time religious studies means that few are employed in the standard labor market.  There is a growing narrative about how the rest of the country is footing the bill for this one community.

Al Jazeera's reporters interviewed people on the street for their opinions.

"I think that every Israeli citizen should have individual rights and individual responsibilities, and they should be drafted as individuals and they should serve and they should serve honorably," one man told reporters.

A woman expressed frustration with the religious privileges enjoyed by the Haredim.  "There's no doubt that the ultra-Orthodox should serve in the army.  There's no reason why my 18-year-old friend should be protecting them at checkpoints while they're just sitting at home."

Drafting the Haredim has become the top political issue in Israel because criticism of the ultra-Orthodox community is part of a perpetual debate about the character of Israel — how secular it should be or how Jewish.  Any decision by the government to put these men into the military, the Haradem say, would disrupt their spiritual growth.

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  • skater60

    I wouldn't put these folks in any military because they'll just cause lots of trouble and end up in a stockade somewhere. How about taking a shortcut and put them all in a stockade to begin with? They want to be separate and special and protected? Not a problem. It could be a nice stockade with trees and grass and stuff, doesn't have to be nasty. Although I might be able to make a case for nasty.

  • This is interesting. Judaism teaches the Jews themselves are specially chosen by God "above all people that are upon the face of the earth" (Deuteronomy 7:6) but the ultra-Orthodox Jews believe they are even more chosen/special than their fellow Jews. Whenever you have one group falsely believing they are superior to everyone else, you're going to have trouble.

    When the reporter says, "But prayer has not brought peace" she misses the fact that many of the Hebrew Bible prayers the ultra-Orthodox are praying are not for peace but for Israel over all. For example, verses following the opening to the most important prayer in Judaism (Deuteronomy 4-9), the Shema, promise Hebrews/Jews/Israel that if they follow the Bible god's commands they will be able to plunder and occupy their neighbors. Deuteronomy 6:10-11 has the Bible god telling the Hebrews, "And it shall be, when the LORD thy God shall have brought thee into the land which he sware unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give thee great and goodly cities, which thou buildedst not, And houses full of all good things, which thou filledst not, and wells digged, which thou diggedst not, vineyards and olive trees, which thou plantedst not; when thou shalt have eaten and be full;"

    People around the world need to let go of these ancient ungodly violence producing superstitions and embrace their God-given reason. As Thomas Paine made clear in his important book on God, Deism and religion, The Age of Reason, The Complete Edition, we need a revolution in religion based on our gift from God of reason and on Deism. That will free us of the ancient Judaic, Christian and Islamic violence promoting teachings. What a much better world we will then have!

    Progress! Bob Johnson

  • separation = segregation. Send those funny hats to the front line! South Africa, uh, I mean Israel isn't going to defend itself.

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