Israel abolishes military exemption for ultra-Orthodox Jews


ultra orthodox jews protestIsrael’s parliament on Wednesday approved a contentious law that abolishes blanket military exemptions for ultra-Orthodox Jewish seminary students, ending a tradition upheld since the state’s foundation.

Finalized after months of political wrangling and likely to spark ultra-Orthodox rage, the legislation will be implemented fully in 2017 and limit the annual number of ultra-Orthodox men excused from compulsory military service to 1,800 granted “gifted scholar” status.

The issue is at the heart of a raging national debate over “sharing the burden” of life in a country where most Jewish men and women are called up for military service when they turn 18.

Most ultra-Orthodox Jews, or “Haredim”, a Hebrew term meaning ‘those who tremble before God’, have been exempt from conscription.

Under the new law, the government will set an annual enlistment quota for ultra-Orthodox seminary students. If that quota – the 2017 target is 5,200 – is not met, conscription notices will be served to all but the 1,800 top scholars, with criminal penalties for any draft-dodging.

Ultra-Orthodox legislators, along with opposition lawmakers protesting against a series of bills this week that they view as undemocratic, boycotted the parliamentary session. But they voiced their anger on a “Haredi” website after the 67-1 vote.

“This is a black day for the state and the government, ultra-Orthodox lawmaker Moshe Gafni, was quoted as saying on the Kikar Hashabat website. “The state of Israel has lost the right to call itself a Jewish and democratic state.”

“The Haredi public will not forget or forgive the prime minister and his partners,” Gafni was quoted as saying.

But Finance Minister Yair Lapid, whose centrist party pushed to lift the exemptions, said: “Is it too much to expect people who live here and whose lives are defended every day by soldiers … to do their bit, no more or no less than any other Israeli citizen?”


The ultra-Orthodox make up about 10 percent of Israel’s 8 million population and are a fast-growing, poor sector.

Most of their men are unemployed and live off state benefits. They are resented by many Israelis who accuse them of burdening the economy and sponging off the state while avoiding the duties that bind others.

Haredim say the study of holy scriptures is a foundation of Jewish life, that scholars have a right to devote themselves full time to the tradition, and that army service would deny them fulfillment of that religious edict.

Changing the so-called secular-religious status quo in Israel has carried significant political risk in the past for successive coalition governments, which have often relied on the support of Haredi partners for their survival.

But for the first time in a decade, Israel’s cabinet has no ultra-Orthodox members, opening the way for the reforms.

The legislation sets a “period of adjustment”, until 2017, in which seminary students can choose to either enlist into the army or civil service, or study at a religious school.

Hundreds of thousands of Haredim staged a mass rally in central Jerusalem earlier this month to protest against the change in the law and have promised further large-scale demonstrations if the new measures are enacted.




11 responses to “Israel abolishes military exemption for ultra-Orthodox Jews”

  1. Hannibal Avatar

    FINALLY! lol
    What? Is Israel running out of young men?

    1. don’t get too exited Hanibal, israel has a positive birth rate

      1. Hannibal Avatar

        Now you turned into Egyptian… popping 3 a minute in a world that needs less people. 😛

        1. don’t say that.
          eygpt produce 1 million newborns and can feed less then half.

  2. nagy_michael2 Avatar

    The ultra orthodox jews talks about democracy.. is that why you killed Ishak Rabin you were looking to bring democracy and peace to Israel. you should be ashamed calling yourself Jews. so you go around and kill what exactly is their problem for not joining the army? they’re already kill people in the name of Torah… lol..
    Its time for these lazy ass loafers to do something for their country and not their selfish needs. In that case you just make peace with the Palestinians then. Offer them land and you guys don’t have to fight anymore..

    1. it is not the same people nagy, rabin murderer came from a sect that support serving in the army and working (regardless of their political agenda) those demonstrators are parasits who want to live on the state’s expance.
      it sure is time those lazy asses do something for their country, however offering the Palis land will not end the war

  3. Tchaddd Avatar

    Jews are not the ennemy of arabs or humanity…They used to live side by side with everybody and still live in some arab countries till now and they are arab jews, like christians arab, like muslims arabs etc… But the bad guys are the zionists who under the name of jews act and rule the state of Isreal and the international finance… Peace will come one day hopefully and once again we will live side by side no matter our confession or religion because God is one…

    1. You make a good point Tchaddd, The way I have always seen it is that people are prone to be unfair on multiple levels as evident all around us regardless of nationality or sect , they simply use brand, label, religion, politics as a licence or as a justifiable excuse for the cause of them behaving as defective racist humans to one group or another as if it is a human neccessity to be mad or hateful towards someone all the time.

      It is wise not to lump all people and paint them with the same brush as there are fair and good people on ALL sides with the right heart condition that would make them innocent from being partakers in bad behavior I mention. It is on behalf of the innocent on all sides I keep the door of hope open.

  4. 5thDrawer Avatar

    Reminds me a very little of: ‘Hell No. We Won’t Go.’

  5. In the future, those who survive the Great Tribulation period, will come to Jerusalem, to Worship the Lord Jesus Christ, and hear His Word……

    Zechariah 14:16……..
    16 And it shall come to pass, that every one that is left of all the nations which came against Jerusalem shall even go up from year to year to worship the King, the Lord of hosts, and to keep the feast of tabernacles.

    Isaiah 9:7………
    Of the increase of his government and peace there shall be no end, upon the throne of David, and upon his kingdom, to order it, and to establish it with judgment and with justice from henceforth even for ever. The zeal of the Lord of hosts will perform this.

  6. cook2half Avatar

    bouhahhaa lazy losers about to get off their asses

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