Military Exemption for Ultra-Orthodox in Israel, Finally Ruled Unconstitutional

Ultra-Orthodox Jews praying at the Western Wall in the Old City area of Jerusalem in June.CreditAtef Safadi/European Pressphoto Agency

JERUSALEM — Israel’s Supreme Court on Tuesday struck down the current government arrangement allowing for mass exemptions for ultra-Orthodox Jews from compulsory military service, calling it discriminatory and unconstitutional. The ruling redraws the battle lines over an issue that has long roiled Israeli society.

The impassioned debate over military exemptions for strictly Orthodox Jews engaged in full-time Torah study goes to the heart of the struggle for the future character of Israel.

In a country where most Jewish men and women are conscripted at 18, and where the military is hallowed as a social equalizer and a people’s army protecting Israel from threats on its borders, past attempts to reduce the scope of exemptions and create a more equitable sharing of the national burden only seem to have underscored deep social divisions.

“The history of this societal controversy reflects the history of the State of Israel itself,” wrote the departing president of the Supreme Court, Justice Miriam Naor, in the 148-page ruling, noting that the court had already ruled on the issue several times before.

The court gave the government a year to come up with alternative legislation that would satisfy the basic principle of equality. This latest ruling came in response to a petition by several nongovernmental pressure groups and Yesh Atid, a centrist party led by Yair Lapid, who has championed the cause of equal service in recent years both in the government and now in the opposition.

The court decision was reached by eight members of a nine-judge panel sitting as the High Court of Justice, with one member dissenting. It presents a new challenge for the government of Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, already beleaguered by corruption investigations and reliant on the support of his ultra-Orthodox coalition partners.

Ultra-Orthodox politicians strongly denounced the ruling and vowed to fight it, but given the yearlong time frame for amending the law, the stability of the governing coalition did not appear to be in imminent danger.

“Those same Torah sons who chose to dedicate their lives to Torah study will continue to study Torah here in the land of Israel, the holy land,” said Aryeh Deri, the interior minister and the leader of the ultra-Orthodox Shas Party, in remarks after the ruling. “No force in the world will stop them,” he said, adding that the court has proved itself “totally disconnected from our heritage and tradition and from our people.”

Mr. Lapid of Yesh Atid (Hebrew for There Is a Future), speaking after the decision was announced, said: “Today we started to turn the ship toward sanity and values. That’s why we are in politics.”

Mr. Netanyahu, he added, could not continue to wriggle out of making a decision. The draft, he said, is “for everyone, not just for suckers who don’t have a party in the coalition. We’re done being suckers. The court decided that we will not have first- and second-class citizens in Israel.”

The policy of open-ended deferment dates to 1949 when Israel’s founding prime minister, David Ben-Gurion, exempted 400 religious students from military service in an effort to restore the tradition of yeshiva scholarship, which had been nearly destroyed during the Holocaust. The issue has since become tendentious, with the number of those who have been exempted by now amounting to tens of thousands.

Those who support wholesale deferment and exemption for Torah students in seminaries argue that Israel needs spiritual preservation as much as physical protection. Critics protest that the fast-growing ultra-Orthodox minority, known in Hebrew as Haredim, or those in awe of God, are not contributing enough to the country’s economy or security, leaving others to bear an unfair burden.

Israel’s ultra-Orthodox sector makes up about 10 percent of the population of more than 8.5 million but it is rapidly increasing, with its members typically marrying young and having large families. Worry and anger has been growing among many Israelis who fear that the economy will become unsustainable in the coming decades without radical change, in part because many ultra-Orthodox men prefer full time Torah study over work and rely on government stipends.

With the ultra-Orthodox parties often serving as coalition kingmakers and serving in most of the governments for more than three decades, they have accrued what many see as disproportionate power, privileges and subsidies.

Far from homogeneous, the Haredi world is made up of different rabbinical courts, and a small but growing number of strictly religious Jews have already been opting for military service or civilian national service as a way of acquiring skills and a path out of poverty and toward integration into the work force. The army has tried to accommodate Haredi recruits. It has even established ultra-Orthodox battalions, allowing those soldiers to combine military service with religious life.

But the more hard-core rabbis, who refuse to recognize the legitimacy of a Jewish state before the arrival of the Messiah, have resisted change. Ultra-Orthodox soldiers have been harassed and abused in their neighborhoods and stormy street protests have erupted in cases where members of the community who did not qualify for an army exemption, perhaps because they were found to be not properly engaged in yeshiva study, have been detained for draft dodging. Religious women are exempted from army service because they adhere to strict rules of modesty. Israel’s Arab minority is also largely exempted.

Tuesday’s ruling was just the latest twist in a long political and legal saga. In 2012, the Supreme Court invalidated a law that had been in force for a decade regulating the exemption from military service for ultra-Orthodox Jews. The law was supposed to encourage ultra-Orthodox enlistment without coercion, but it failed to achieve results and the court deemed it unconstitutional.

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Fundamentalism of the Haredi Kind – The Haredi Brand of Hamas, Next they Start Teaching Children to Blow Themselves Up…

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http://www.jpost.com/israel-news/politics-and-diplomacy/kill-next-woman-soldier-you-see-says-flier-against-haredi-idf-service-494466

‘Kill next woman soldier you see’ reads flier against haredi IDF service

In a severe escalation of incitement against haredi (ultra-Orthodox) enlistment in the IDF, a flyer was recently distributed in Jerusalem’s ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods that called for the murder of women soldiers, IDF commanders and anyone involved in recruiting haredi men into the army.

Until now, the campaign against haredi IDF service has refrained from calling for violence, sufficing instead with severe incitement and vitriolic verbal attacks against haredi soldiers, officers and recruiters.

The flyer, however, is very different from materials normally printed and distributed by such groups. Some doubt has surfaced as to whether the flyers were part of the central anti-enlistment campaign because its wording is unlike that of standard pashkavillim, public notices commonly used in the haredi community.

It was also not professionally printed, as are regular pashkavillim and anti-haredi military service materials.

The flyer, titled “A Ruling of Jewish Law,” instructs young haredi men who are drafted into the IDF: “If they take you by force to the army of destruction, it is permitted for you and you must do the following actions: Take the rifle that you received and kill any woman soldier you come across so she merits [the precept of] ‘be killed instead of transgressing.’ Kill any [IDF] commander who holds you [in the army] by force. Kill anyone who drafts or entices or helps [to draft haredi men].”

The notice also said that soldiers should kill themselves in order to fulfill the precept of ‘be killed instead of transgressing,’ which in normative Jewish law applies only to instances in which one must murder, engage in forbidden sexual relationships or commit idolatry.

Police are investigating the source of the pamphlet, which incites to violence.

For the last four years, extremists in the ultra-Orthodox community have waged a campaign against haredi men serving in the IDF out of belief that the state is trying to eradicate their religious identity by secularizing them in the army.

Ultra-Orthodox IDF soldiers, officers and officials involved in encouraging haredi enlistment have frequently been subjected to verbal abuse, physical assault, harassment and even death threats. Flyers, posters and booklets inciting against haredi IDF enlistment have been published and disseminated in ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods.

A poster that is certainly part of the anti-enlistment campaign, which was disseminated earlier this week in Bnei Brak and Beit Shemesh, promises as much as NIS 810 to haredi children if they verbally abuse haredi soldiers.

The poster lauded an incident last month in which a haredi child engaged in abusive behavior toward a haredi soldier and was detained by the police.

The poster noted that the child’s behavior was “in keeping with the Torah and the instructions of the leading rabbis who have ruled that one must disgrace [haredi soldiers].”

“Remember pure children! You are on the side of Torah, the side of God, you will be victorious! These evil people will not succeed in destroying your future,” reads the poster, which refers to haredi soldiers as “hardak,” an insult meaning weak-minded haredi.

“But, so that we too will have a portion in your massive merit, we have decided to grant to all children who they dare to put in a police patrol car – because he fulfilled the religious commandment to shout ‘hardaks get out’ – a present or voucher worth NIS 530, a number that has the numeric value of ‘hardaks get out now,’” states the poster.

Any child struck during the arrest, the poster promises, will receive a further award of NIS 290, the numeric value of “fist.”

Only those under the age of 15 qualify for the reward, which will be delivered to the child’s house, according to the poster.

Police have stepped up efforts in recent months to counter assaults against haredi IDF soldiers, conducting arrests and investigations against those behind the incitement campaign.

http://www.jpost.com/israel-news/politics-and-diplomacy/kill-next-woman-soldier-you-see-says-flier-against-haredi-idf-service-494466

Lakewood School District Hijacked by the Ultra-Orthodox – The Kids Are Fighting Back!!

DO YOU WONDER WHY ANTI-SEMITISM EXISTS IN THE WORLD? THE CHILD VICTIMS OF RELIGIOUS FUNDAMENTALISM.

http://www.thelakewoodscoop.com/news/2017/05/breaking-photo-lakewood-high-school-students-take-to-the-streets-in-protest-over-teacher-job-cuts.html

BREAKING VIDEO & PHOTOS: Lakewood High School students take to the streets in protest over teacher job cuts

Anti-Zionist Fundamentalism – Anti-IDF Sentiment, Who’s Supposed to Protect Israel?

Anti – Zionist Fundamentalism

https://www.facebook.com/frumwatch/

Police say the suspects allegedly attempted to extort businesses, harassing and threatening company officials with ultimatums to advertise in HaPeles (the “Jerusalem Faction”‘s newspaper), warning that the failure to do so would be seen as an insult to a large segment of the haredi population and would have serious consequences. The harassment of the targeted officials was reportedly ongoing on a daily basis.

http://www.israelnationalnews.com/News/News.aspx/228214

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28 arrested in crackdown on anti-Zionist radicals

Police operation against anti-draft Yerushalmi Faction nets 28 suspects, including senior members of ‘Hapeles’ newspaper.

Police arrested 28 suspects in a pre-dawn raid early Tuesday morning in a crackdown against the haredi anti-draft group known as the Yerushalmi Faction.

The Yerushalmi Faction, led by Rabbi Shmuel Auerbach, has had mass demonstrations and blocked roads across the country to protest the draft of yeshiva students into the IDF. Unlike mainstream haredi groups, the Yerushalmi Faction discourages its members from seeking deferments from the army as yeshiva students, arguing that such behavior legitimizes the existing draft law.

Among the 28 suspects arrested Tuesday are senior members of the Hapeles newspaper, the mouthpiece of the Yerushalmi Faction.

Police say the suspects allegedly attempted to extort businesses, harassing and threatening company officials with ultimatums to advertise in Hapeles, warning that the failure to do so would be seen as an insult to a large segment of the haredi population and would have serious consequences. The harassment of the targeted officials was reportedly ongoing on a daily basis.

Tuesday’s operation also included searches of offices maintained by Hapeles.

The arrestees included residents of Jerusalem, Modiin Illit, Bnei Brak, Ashdod, Rechasim, and Hadera.

During the arrests of suspects in Bnei Brak, some locals clashed with police, hurling stones and other objects at officers.

OU – Barring Women Clergy

 

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http://forward.com/news/362043/orthodox-union-adopts-policy-barring-women-clergy/

 

Exclusive: Orthodox Union Adopts New Policy Barring Women Clergy

 

The Orthodox Union has adopted a new policy barring women from serving as clergy at its 400 member congregations across the United States.

At least four synagogues that are members of the Orthodox Union currently employ women in clergy roles.

A new rabbinic ruling by seven leading Modern Orthodox rabbis — adopted as official OU policy at a board meeting on February 1 — concludes that “a woman should not be appointed to serve in a clergy position.”

The ruling bars women from holding a title such as “rabbi,” or even from serving without title in a role in which she would be performing clergy functions, such as regularly leading services, delivering sermons, ruling on matters of religious law, or officiating at weddings and funerals.

The OU publicly released its statement on the policy and the rabbinic ruling shortly after the Forward first posted this story.

“We have received a number of requests from member synagogues and their lay leadership and or rabbinic leadership for halachic guidance in this area,” said Allen Fagin, executive vice president of the OU. Fagin said that the OU had, in turn, requested the rabbinical ruling. He said that while the ruling bars women from clergy jobs, it encourages women to take other synagogue leadership roles.

News of the new policy drew immediate condemnation from rabbis and leaders on the Modern Orthodox left.

 “The OU should stick to tuna fish,” said Rabbi Shmuel Herzfeld, spiritual leader of Ohev Sholom – The National Synagogue in Washington, D.C., an OU congregation that employs a female clergy member, Maharat Ruth Balinsky Friedman. (In addition to its role as a synagogue umbrella group, the OU runs the largest kosher certification agency in the world.)

It’s not clear what the OU will do about member synagogues that currently employ female clergy. The OU statement says that the OU’s Synagogue Standards Commission will “enter into a dialogue with synagogues to encourage and facilitate implementation” of the rabbinic ruling.

Fagin said that it was the OU’s “really strong hope” that congregations that currently have female clergy would not split from the OU. “Part of our responsibility here, together with our shuls, is to try to find common ground in those small number of instances where there may be the need for further thought,” he said.

To read the article in its entirety click here.

Jewish Fundamentalism and the Subjugation of Women – Satmar

 

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Satmar Decree Bars Women From ‘Dangerous’ College Education

http://forward.com/news/breaking-news/348328/satmar-decree-bars-women-from-dangerous-college-education/

Hasidic rabbis from the Satmar sect reportedly have issued a decree barring women from pursuing higher education.

The Yiddish-language decree says college education for girls is “dangerous” and “against the Torah,” and that “no girls attending our school are allowed to study and get a degree,” The Independent online newspaper based in Britain reported Tuesday.

According to the Independent, the decree was issued by Satmar leaders in New York and applies to members of the sect worldwide.

 

Responding to the report, the Board of Deputies of British Jews said in a statement, according to UK’s Jewish News: “The mainstream Jewish community would certainly reject this view. Both Jewish girls and boys should all have the opportunity to go to university if that is what they want to do.”

The Satmar decree said the sect’s schools will not hire women “who’ve been to college or have a degree.”

“We have to keep our school safe and we can’t allow any secular influences in our holy environment. It is against the base upon which our [institution] was built,” the decree said.

Satmar is the largest sect of haredi Orthodox Jews in the United Kingdom, according to the Independent, which said the country’s haredi Orthodox population is estimated at 30,000.

Ultra-Orthodox Resorting to Violence over Prayer at the Western Wall

 

Are we really to believe that we are any better than fundamentalists from any religion?

The above video is of an Ultra-Orthodox man ripping up a Prayer Book to Protest Western Wall Bat Mitzvah. Is this not what we have so many times condemned the fundamentalists of other religions for doing? Are we any better?

Non-Orthodox Jews Give up on Western Wall Compromise, Sue Israeli Government

Read more: http://forward.com/news/israel/344670/non-orthodox-jews-give-up-on-western-wall-compromise-sue-israeli-government/#ixzz4EJ5Lpm30

According to the agreement, the new section, to be known as Ezrat Israel (the section for all of Israel), was to have been established to the south of the main Kotel Plaza, in an area popularly known as Robinson’s Arch. Furthermore, to symbolize the equality between the sections, a new, unified entrance to all three areas, was to be constructed.

But since the government’s decision, which passed despite the opposition of the ultra-Orthodox parties in Netanyahu’s coalition, these parties have been pressuring the government to pull out of the agreement. They warn of “bloodshed” if the government continues to ignore the incitement against them. In June, speaking on an Israeli radio station Rabbi Avigdor Nebenzahl, rabbi of the Old City, declared that “there cannot be any compromise with the Reform,” and called upon the entire ultra-Orthodox public to “prevent the Reform from desecrating our holy spaces.”

Also in June, Rabbi Amar, Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem, held a protest prayer at the area marked for the egalitarian worship, and put up a separation between men and women. With tears in his eyes, he denounced the planned new plaza as an “unforgivable wrong” and promised to be “vigilant” in the face of the “desecration” of the Western Wall.

In past weeks, ultra-Orthodox protestors have attacked liberal worshippers several times, as police stood by. Last week, during prayers by Women of the Wall, a women’s group that prays in the women’s section but, in contradiction with ultra-Orthodox custom, prays aloud, a man dressed in ultra-Orthodox garb publicly and gleefully tore apart one of their prayer books