Diamonds and Diamonds and Israel and HAP – Eran Polack

Loose-diamonds

HAP co-founder committed fraud in $10M diamond heist: Israeli court

HAP Investments’ Eran Polack lied about being a victim of a $10 million diamond heist, an Israeli court ruled in September, after more than $5 million of the supposedly stolen inventory was recovered in his possession.

Polack, who co-founded HAP with two partners, was enmeshed in a long-running insurance case in Israel, in which he claimed to have been robbed of $10 million worth of diamonds in his office in Hong Kong in 2010. In September, an Israeli court threw out the claim, finding that more than $5 million of the stolen inventory had been with Polack all along, and that Polack lied about how the robbery went down, if in fact there was one.

“The defendants have successfully proven fraudulent intention,” the judge wrote. “Not only that the plaintiffs gave false testimony, but that they knew it was false, and did so with the intention of unlawfully recouping funds from the defendants on its basis.”

Polack is not facing fraud charges, as this was an insurance case, but the claim was thrown out and Polack is required to pay the insurer’s legal costs and attorney’s fees, in addition to $215,000 in legal fees.

Channel 10 News in Israel reported that Polack resigned from HAP following the ruling, and quoted a statement from the firm that, “Polack requested to leave his position as chairman and CEO soon after the ruling.”

However, in a statement to The Real Deal, a spokesperson for HAP denied that was the case. “Eran Polack was, and is, a founding partner and CEO of HAP Investments LLC and its affiliates in the United States,” the spokesperson said, and added that he intends to appeal the court’s decision.

According to Israeli court documents, Polack traveled to Hong Kong in February 2010 to sell about $10 million worth of diamonds. On the day of the alleged robbery he met with two men, identified only as “Africans,” at his office building in Hong Kong, to discuss the deal, documents show. At the building, Polack claims, the two men attacked him at knife-point and forced him to open his office, then ran off with the diamonds, leaving him bound.

Polack had increased his insurance policy from Menora Insurance days before leaving to Hong Kong in preparation for the deal, the documents show. After the heist, he filed a claim for 1,898 stolen diamonds worth a total of $9.5 million. Menora denied the claim on account of inconsistencies in Polack’s story, and followed up with a complaint accusing him of fraud.

Over the course of the next few years, more than $5 million worth of the stolen inventory was discovered in Polack’s possession, according to the documents. Three of the most valuable gems, worth a combined $2.5 million, had allegedly been bought on consignment in Hong Kong days before the robbery and Polack later tried to sell them. Polack removed another 41 gems from the list early on, deducting their value from his claim, after they too were found in his possession. In both cases, he was caught because he went to get the diamonds certified and reinsured, the documents state.

Polack’s story about the Africans was suspect from the start, according to Menora, who pointed out a list of inconsistencies and abnormalities, like the fact that the office was unfurnished, that he dismissed his secretary early that day and didn’t tell his partner about the meeting. But the key piece of evidence was CCTV footage that contradicted the crux of the story. In elevator security footage that was entered as evidence, Polack is seen taking the keys to his office out of his bag, proving that he allowed the two strangers inside voluntarily without accompaniment, which is not allowed by the policy.

According to the court, the robbery might have happened, only not under the circumstances described. “The motive for telling the wrong story is clear,” the judge wrote, since Polack knew that he hadn’t followed the security procedure and wouldn’t get the insurance money unless he fudged the details. Raising the stakes further was the fact that Polack was a middleman, and not all the stolen diamonds were his.

Dovid Levi, a victim of the theft, told Channel 10 news in Israel that back in 2010, Polack promised to return the money once the insurance paid up. “Then suddenly, I hear he’s running around New York, investing in real estate.”

HAP was founded by Polack, Amir Hasid and Nir Amsel, and they are funded in part by private Israeli investors. They are developing several multifamily buildings in Harlem, including a 20-unit condo building at 329 Pleasant Avenue, designed by Karim Rashid. The firm’s biggest New York City project to date is a $387 million development in Chelsea at 215-227 West 28th Street, where they plan to build a 21-story building with 199 units. HAP is also developing a 42-story mixed-use tower in Jersey City.

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Malka Leifer – The Queen of Molestation Still Evading Justice

http://www.abc.net.au/7.30/jewish-community-adass-israel-investigated-over/9078210

Malka Leifer

Members of Jewish community Adass Israel investigated over accused principal’s escape

 

LEIGH SALES, PRESENTER: When the principal of an ultra-Orthodox Jewish school fled to Israel in the middle of the night, the students she was alleged to have abused were devastated.

That was nine years ago and Malka Leifer is still evading justice.

This afternoon Victoria Police confirmed it is investigating members of the Melbourne community who assisted her escape.

Reporter Louise Milligan met one of Leifer’s victims, who today landed in Israel to campaign for her extradition.

(Footage of Dassi Erlich with a friend at a cafe in Elsternwick, Melbourne)

DASSI ERLICH: I haven’t had any coffee yet today. (Laughs)

LOUISE MILLIGAN, REPORTER: It seems like a pretty ordinary scene: a 30-year-old woman out for coffee with her friend.

DASSI ERLICH: How old is Kes now?

FRIEND: Twenty.

DASSI ERLICH: Twenty. Yeah…

LOUISE MILLIGAN: But even though she has spent her entire life in this neighbourhood, for most of that time Dassi Erlich was strictly forbidden from doing anything as simple as this.

DASSI ERLICH: I didn’t know how to really exist in the outside world. I didn’t know how to do kind of the normal, everyday things that everybody else does outside of the community.

LOUISE MILLIGAN: Dassi grew up in the tiny Jewish community, Adass Israel, here in Melbourne’s Ripponlea.

DASSI ERLICH: We didn’t grow up with any TV or that type of stuff. So, yeah. Just going to the cinema and watching a movie: that’s not something I had ever done before.

NICK MAZZEO, LAWYER: The Adass community is an ultra-Orthodox community, so it’s a very closed community. It involves about 200 families.

LOUISE MILLIGAN: Dassi’s sheltered existence extended to the classroom. She went here, to the Adass Israel Girls’ School.

DASSI ERLICH: That’s all I knew. That was, you know, growing up and going to school and learning how to be a good Jewish mother; learning Jewish studies. That was my life.

Leaving school: I think I left school with a year seven maths and a year seven English.

LOUISE MILLIGAN: Young Dassi was incredibly isolated and naive and was also struggling with a difficult family life – which made her a perfect target for school principal Malka Leifer.

DASSI ERLICH: Malka Leifer: she knew that I came from an abusive household. And she approached me with the intention of a person of support: someone that could help out with what was going on at home; someone that could listen and care.

And over time she molested and then raped me.

LOUISE MILLIGAN: Two of her sisters were also allegedly targeted by Leifer.

DASSI ERLICH: There was no-one to tell. There was literally no-one to tell.

LOUISE MILLIGAN: Did you know it was wrong?

DASSI ERLICH: On some level I knew it was wrong. I couldn’t – at the time I couldn’t state why it was wrong, because I didn’t have the words for it. But definitely it felt wrong.

NICK MAZZEO: The abuse was horrific and included penetration.

It’s a credit to her that she’s able to continue day by day and get through this trauma that she’s gone through.

LOUISE MILLIGAN: Dassi was married off into the community while still a teenager, but the trauma resurfaced when she had a baby.

(Photograph of Dassi Erlich and her child at the beach)

LOUISE MILLIGAN: The day after this photo was taken, she was admitted to a psychiatric hospital.

DASSI ERLICH: I was quite suicidal and I was self-harming.

LOUISE MILLIGAN: Dassi told a psychologist about the abuse and later, while in hospital, reported to Victoria Police.

The Adass Israel School learned about Dassi’s complaint to a psychologist. In the heat of the moment, they made a very poor decision about what to do about Malka Leifer.

NICK MAZZEO: A meeting was held and – we’re talking within hours – airline tickets were booked and Leifer, along with her husband and children: they were flown out of the country to Israel.

LOUISE MILLIGAN: What does that say to you?

NICK MAZZEO: It’s disgraceful that people, knowing that a crime had been committed, would take those steps to remove someone from the jurisdiction.

LOUISE MILLIGAN: There are thought to be up to 15 alleged victims. Victoria Police eventually laid 74 charges against Malka Leifer.

But Dassi Erlich was treated as a traitor to her community and her parents.

DASSI ERLICH: By going forward to the police, my reputation was shot. So I left the community.

TED BAILLIEU, FORMER VICTORIAN PREMIER: She’s been through terrible times. To think she’s been abused by her principal, she’s been shunned by her community and she’s been chopped out by her own parents.

LOUISE MILLIGAN: Forced to seek a new life, Dassi sued the school board and in 2015 Supreme Court justice Jack Rush awarded her $1.2 million: the largest Victorian damages payout to a victim of institutional abuse.

The judge said:

NICK MAZZEO: That the school’s conduct was “deplorable,” “disgraceful.” They are just a few of the words the he used.

He was very scathing of the way that the school conducted the case. There’s no doubt about that.

LOUISE MILLIGAN: Leifer, meanwhile, is still in Israel. She has fought extradition, arguing she is too mentally unwell to face trial in Australia.

DASSI ERLICH: Malka Leifer is living a free life in Israel. She has absolutely no restrictions on her movement. She can go and come as she pleases.

(Dassi Erlich and her sister Elly meet Ted Baillieu in a Melbourne side street)

LOUISE MILLIGAN: So Dassi Erlich has embarked on a campaign to press Israel to extradite her former principal.

TED BAILLIEU: Hello.

DASSI ERLICH: Hi.

TED BAILLIEU: How are you, Dassi?

DASSI ERLICH: Good.

LOUISE MILLIGAN: She has some formidable supporters, like former Victorian premier Ted Baillieu.

TED BAILLIEU: I said to her, “Dassi, I’m happy to stand beside you on any public platform you like.” I said it a number of times and she took me up on it. And I’m very pleased to be able to help her.

LOUISE MILLIGAN: Last month Mr Baillieu accompanied Dassi and her sister Elly, also a Leifer victim, to a meeting with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull. The Prime Minister has today indicated he will raise the case with Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu.

MALCOLM TURNBULL, PRIME MINISTER: What I’ll say is that justice demands that she be brought back to Australia to answer the charges.

LOUISE MILLIGAN: Dassi Erlich has been negotiating for some time with the new Adass Israel School board to get a public apology to her and the other alleged victims of Malka Leifer.

The school had promised a lengthy statement to 7.30 today, but it never arrived.

Victoria Police this afternoon confirmed it is still investigating some members of the Adass community who helped Malka Leifer flee Australia nine years ago, in the middle of the night.

Dassi Erlich is taking her plea direct to the Israeli Government. Late yesterday she flew to Israel with her sisters.

For now, Malka Leifer remains protected inside a closed ultra-Orthodox community in central Israel.

DASSI ERLICH: I want to achieve justice. I want to ensure as well that there is awareness in Israel about this case, because Malka Leifer is living in a community around people that are as naive and as ignorant of these kind of issues as I was when I was growing up.

And if I can do anything to ensure that what happened to me doesn’t happen to anybody else, that’s definitely a big goal of mine.

 

Religious Fundamentalism At Work – The Western Wall – A Strip Search

 

Outcry as women asked to lift skirts, shirts at entrance to Western Wall

From the Times of Israel

Liberal Jewish groups say 4 female rabbinical students were intimidated, humiliated ahead of Women of the Wall prayer service

Guards at the entrance to the Western Wall complex in Jerusalem “strip searched” four female rabbinical students on Wednesday ahead of the Women of the Wall’s monthly prayer service at the holy site, liberal Jewish groups said.

The Israel Religious Action Center, which serves as the legal arm of the Reform Movement in Israel, said the four students of Hebrew Union College were delayed and questioned by guards, then were asked to lift up their shirts and skirts. “Four female rabbinical students strip searched while trying to enter the Western Wall Complex,” it declared in a press release.

The director of the IRAC said the searches were “a new low” for the Western Wall rabbinate, which is strongly opposed to the Women of the Wall.

“This is a new low for the Rabbi of the Kotel trying to intimidate, humiliate, and exclude liberal women trying to pray at the Western Wall. Despite today’s events these four brave Jewish leaders will continue to love Israel, the Wall, and justice,” Rabbi Noa Sattath said in a statement, using the Hebrew term for the Western Wall.

“Today we are submitting formal letters of complaint to the Attorney General and the Prime Minister’s office demanding they act to address the events of this morning,” she added.

Women of the Wall said the search of the four women was illegal.

“These searches go against [Supreme Court] Judge Rubinstein’s decision which states that body searches on Women of the Wall are illegal without a serious security threat. A few of these students, who were visiting the Kotel for the first time, were shocked by the incident and the difficult experience imposed on them,” the group said in a statement.

Religious media outlets said the women were smuggling Torah scrolls on their persons, which Western Wall Rabbi Shmuel Rabinovitch called a “desecration.”

“Today, the first of the [Jewish] month of Elul, all the red lines were crossed. They smuggled holy Torah schools wrapped around their bodies, they hid whistles in their private parts, and for what? For the “sanctity” of the civil war at the Western Wall,” he said in a statement.

At the prayer service, women read from a Torah scroll and blew 15 shofars, activities that are vehemently opposed by ultra-Orthodox Jews, who hold that only men may do these things.

“We sounded the shofar today in order to knock down the walls of apathy, exclusion, silencing and discrimination…We look to the Supreme Court, that has proven itself as the ‘responsible adult’ in the state, to lead to a just solution to our basic demand for equal rights for women at the Wall,” Women of the Wall head Anat Hoffman said.

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Members of Women of the Wall blow shofars during a prayer service marking the first day of the Jewish month of Elul, on August 23, 2017, at the Western Wall in Jerusalem’s Old City. (AFP Photo/Menahem Kahana)

The High Court of Justice is set to hear a petition on the pluralistic prayer section at the Western Wall, which was brought by the Women of the Wallafter the cabinet voted to freeze the deal in June.

The decision to freeze the agreement coincided with a High Court deadline for the state to respond to petitions on its failure to implement the agreement and construct the mixed-gender plaza near Robinson’s Arch.

It also came amid pressure from Orthodox and ultra-Orthodox lawmakers to dial back the plan to establish an egalitarian prayer space at the Western Wall, which was approved by government ministers in January 2016.

The cabinet’s decision was met with widespread dismay from liberal groups and Diaspora Jews.

Prime Minister Benjamin defended the move, with an aide to the premiersaying that it will in fact help push the deal forward, and that Netanyahu had no choice but to halt the agreement as a result of pressure from the ultra-Orthodox parties, whose support he needs to maintain his ruling coalition.

Last week, the US State Department released its International Religious Freedom Report for 2016, which criticized the Western Wall rabbi over “guidelines for religious observance mandating separation of women and men, with the women’s section being less than half the size of the men’s section, and the government continued to enforce these rules.”

The report, which was completed before the suspension of the deal on permanent pluralistic prayer area, also criticized the prohibitions against bringing in privately owned Torah scrolls to the Western Wall plaza, and on women “accessing the public Torah scrolls or giving priestly blessings at the site.”

Remarkably Un-Jewish – Haredim Vandalizing Reform Synagogues and Threatening to Murder Reform Leaders

 

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Haredi Orthodox man indicted in Israel for death threats against Reform leaders

JERUSALEM (JTA) — A man from the haredi Orthodox town of Bnei Brak was indicted for making death threats against leaders of the Reform movement and vandalizing a Reform synagogue.

The man, whose name has not been made public, was arrested last month and prosecutors asked that he be held in custody until the end of his trial. He was indicted Monday on charges of extortion, threats, vandalism and intent to commit arson.

He allegedly also targeted the left-wing Breaking the Silence organization and threatened well-known atheists in Israel.

The incidents date back to 2014.

In November 2016, hate graffiti was painted on the walls of the Kehilat Ra’anan Reform synagogue in Raanana and death threats left in envelopes held down by a knife addressed to prominent Reform leaders were left at its doorstep.

The phrase “The divine presence will never leave the Western Wall,” was spray-painted on the building, as well biblical references “Ovadia 18 and 21,” and “Psalms 139:21-22.” The Ovadia citation deals with the destruction of Israel’s enemies at the hand of a vengeful God. The Psalms citation states of enemies of God, “I hate them with utmost hatred; they have become my enemies.”

The letters were addressed to Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism; Rabbi Gilad Kariv, executive director of the Israel Movement for Reform and Progressive Judaism; and Anat Hoffman, chair of Women of the Wall and the head of the Israel Religious Action Center, the advocacy arm of the Reform movement in Israel. The threats came days after a protest for egalitarian prayer at the Western Wall led by the Reform leaders.

It was the second time the Raanana synagogue had been vandalized. Similar graffiti has been painted on the walls of the synagogue in January 2016, though no death threats had been issued. The threats included arson against the synagogue.

The man also left threatening letters held down by knives and graffiti outside of the homes of Israeli atheists, and had information on activists for Breaking the Silence in order to leave similar messages. He reportedly also had purchased gasoline and other equipment in order to burn down the headquarters of Breaking the Silence.

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Israeli Soldiers Clashing with the Ultra-Orthodox – Casting the First Stone?

Israeli soldiers violently clash with ultra-Orthodox

Hundreds of ultra-Orthodox Jews clashed with Israeli police Sunday when an anti-military demonstration grew violent.

Members of the ultra-Orthodox Eda Haredit group were protesting a recent court ruling that compels them to serve in the Israeli Defense Force. They began to block traffic and resisted riot cops’ efforts to disperse them, according to officials.

“Eight rioters who used violence against police were arrested,” a police statement said in Hebrew, according to The Associated Press. “They lay down in the road, shouting slogans against the police, some of them threw stones at police.”

The court decision, reached last week, struck down a law exempting ultra-Orthodox men from military service if they are engaged in religious study.

Typically, men over 18 must serve two years and eight months in the IDF, and adult women must serve two years.

Religious hardliners argue Judaism forbids a Jewish state — and thus a military — under certain conditions. Others claim that time in the service will expose men to colorful language and detract from their religious studies.

Where there’s a Diamond, A Benny Steinmetz and Fake Contracts… There’s a Fraudy

Beny Steinmetz, the Israeli diamond mining magnate, was taken into custody by Israeli police on Monday on suspicion of fraud, obstruction of justice and bribery.

The 61-year-old billionaire, who is one of Israel’s wealthiest men, was detained alongside four other suspects as part of a joint international investigation by Israeli, Swiss and US authorities.

Israeli police gave few details of the allegations but said the five men were suspected of creating fake contracts to move and launder money.

Detectives raided the men’s homes and offices and a judge granted police permission to detain Mr Steinmetz until Thursday for questioning.

Steinmetz, who founded the BSG Resources (BSGR) mining company, denies any wrongdoing.

Appearing before a magistrate’s court in central Israel, the businessman hit out at Israeli investigators and George Soros, the Hungarian-American investor with whom he has had a long-time rivalry.

“I feel terrible that the state of Israel is doing this to me. This is customary in totalitarian states. It’s like a dictatorship that decides and marks people,” Mr Steinmetz said.

“There is nothing, the whole investigation is nothing. There are those who have marked us here. It’s political. George Soros marked me. We did not do anything.”

Mr Steinmetz has not been charged with a crime. A spokesman declined to comment.

Police said in a statement that the men were detained on suspicion of money laundering, fraud, forgery, obstruction of justice and bribery.

The police raids on Monday were the latest in a long string of legal troubles for Mr Steinmetz, who lives mainly in Geneva and has dual Israeli-French citizenship.

Israeli police placed him under house arrest for two weeks in December 2016 on suspicion of bribing officials in the the west African country of Guinea to advance BSGR’s business interests.

car in Guinea
The Simandou project in Guinea has been stalled for years

The house arrest was lifted in January and he was released without charge but on the conditions that he hand over a 100 million shekel (£21m ) guarantee and not leave Israel  for six months.

BSGR gained access to half of Guinea’s giant iron ore seam, known as Simandou, in 2008 after paying a small amount for the mining rights. It later sold half its concession to Brazilian mining giant Vale for $2.5bn, although just $500m was paid.

Simandou is thought to be the world’s richest untapped deposit of iron ore, used in steel. The deposit had been wholly owned by FTSE 100 giant Rio Tinto until BSGR’s arrival.

The Guinean government stripped BSGR of its access in 2014 after concluding that it had bribed its way to the rights.

BSGR denies any wrongdoing and has threatened to file a lawsuit against Mr Soros, accusing him of orchestrating a defamation campaign against the company and encouraging Guinea to strip it of the Simandou rights. Mr Soros’s representatives have dismissed Mr Steinmetz’s claims as a “PR stunt”.

Asher Avidan, a former president of BSGR in Guinea, was taken into custody alongside Mr Steinmetz. Mr Avidan was also placed under house arrest and released in January.

Among the others detained were Tal Silberstein, a prominent Israeli political consultant, and David Granot, the acting chairman of Israeli telecoms giant Bezeq.

Mr Silberstein had been doing polling work for Austria’s Social Democratic Party ahead of parliamentary elections in October but the party cut ties with him after learning of his detention in Israel.

Bezeq said in a statement that Mr Granot’s detention was “not related to the company”.

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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