Some 30,000 members of the ultra-Orthodox community gathered at the Jerusalem IDF recruitment offices on Thursday to protest against the “enlistment decree” hanging over their heads. The protest comes as the Peri Committee prepares to release its conclusions as to how to draft greater numbers of haredim.
Protest organizers had called for a peaceful demonstration, but police reported several violent confrontations on Thursday. Protesters apparently started throwing blunt objects and stones at police, lightly wounding eight officers. Some of the wounded officers were taken to the Shaare Zedek Medical Center for treatment.
Some demonstrators set garbage cans on fire, to which police responded by firing smoke and stun grenades. Ten demonstrators were arrested during the disturbances.
Members of the Forum for Citizen Equal Rights and Obligations, which sent representatives to the rally to support the enlistment of haredim, ended up being assaulted at the demonstration. According to the group’s members, before they even exited their vehicle, yeshiva students began hurling bags of water at the car, accosting the group and threatening to slash their tires.
The forum has called on the Peri Committee to draft legislation that would lead to the immediate enlistment of haredim, while several senior Israeli officials, including Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, have supported incremental enlistment.
Most of the protesters at the Jerusalem rally belonged to the Edah Haredit, which organized the demonstration. The Edah Haredit is an ultra-Orthodox, anti-Zionist organization that represents much of the Ashkenazi haredi community and that provides kosher supervision, a rabbinical court, and other religious services.
Two of the nation’s most influential rabbis, the Ashkenazi Aharon Yehuda Leib Shteinman and Sephardi Ovadia Yosef, opposed the rally because the issue of haredi enlistment reform has dropped off the government’s agenda, and they feared broaching the subject again.
Several well-known rabbis took part in the protest, including Edah Haredit leader Rabbi Yitzchok Tuvia Weiss, Rabbi Moshe Sternbach and Rabbi Shmuel Auerbach, who described haredi enlistment reform as equivalent to the harsh decrees imposed on the Jews by the likes of Seleucid Emperor Antiochus Epiphanes or the Roman Emperor Hadrian. Others at the rally likened the government’s attitude toward the haredi sector to the Nazi treatment of Jews.
“The haredi public is saying unequivocally: no to compromises, no to concessions. We’re not giving up on even one yeshiva boy,” Yeshaiahu Wein, one of the protest organizers, told Israel Hayom.
“The legal memorandum being drafted is a part of the new enlistment reform,” the office of Science and Technology Minister Yaakov Peri, who heads the committee on haredi enlistment reform, said in a statement released on Thursday. “At the same time, we intend to uphold the value of Torah study. It is incumbent upon the haredi community to enter one of the frameworks of serving their country.”
Tell me, please.
Tell me where in the Torah it says this is the path of religious Jews?
Or is it the path of Jews rebelling against the Torah?