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Orthodox Jews arrested in Israel anti-conscription protest
Published Friday 11/04/2014 16:00
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JERUSALEM (AFP) -- Israeli police arrested five ultra-Orthodox Jews who threw stones at them during a Jerusalem protest Thursday against a new law making men in their community subject to compulsory national service.

"Hundreds of demonstrators gathered in (the ultra-Orthodox neighborhood of) Mea Sharim, stopped traffic and threw stones and bottles at police," Micky Rosenfeld said, adding that five of them were arrested.

The demonstration came a month after parliament adopted a law that will compel ultra-Orthodox Jews to either serve in the military or perform civilian service.

Last year, the cabinet agreed to end a practice under which tens of thousands of ultra-Orthodox men were exempted from military service if they were in full-time study at a yeshiva (Jewish seminary).

The new law, which will take effect in 2017, stipulates that ultra-Orthodox men must either join the army or perform civilian service.

In broader Israeli society, military service is compulsory for both sexes, with men serving three years and women two.

The new law sets out sanctions against draft dodgers -- including imprisonment. That has enraged the ultra-Orthodox leadership, who say it would be tantamount to jailing people for practicing their faith.

In March, more than 300,000 ultra-Orthodox took to the streets of Jerusalem in a mass prayer vigil to protest against the impending legislation.

The new law is seen by many Israelis as amending the historic injustice of an exemption handed to the ultra-Orthodox in 1948, when Israel was created. At that time they were a small segment of society.

Because of high birth rates, the community has since swelled to make up roughly 10 percent of the country's population of just over eight million, and continues to be the fastest-growing sector in Israel.

And many full-time yeshiva students live off government stipends, which are provided for several years after the age of 18.
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1 ) Outlier / USA
12/04/2014 01:54
The ultra-orthodox need to get over themselves. If they are active members of Israeli' society, they must share the burden of making that society function. They do not warrant nor deserve special treatment.

2 ) Judith / USA
12/04/2014 19:29
@Outlier: they do serve in the military as it is, just something like 9 months instead of the full three years and are required to participate in their studies full-time and obtain the degree. It's easy from the outside to say they should participate, but many are conscientious objectors; the orthodox Jewish faith teaches compassion, tolerance and most esp. 'helping' others. I do not know their stand on Palestinians - I would like to know that. Maybe instead, they could just do w/o the stipend.

3 ) Tom / USA
12/04/2014 23:16
Many fervently religious Jews reject the right of the government of Israel to call itself "Jewish." They should be respected for having the courage of their convictions and rejecting this heresy. According to the Torah there won't be a Jewish state until the Messiah comes. There's no reason to vilify people for respecting the word of the Torah.

4 ) Colin Wright / USA
13/04/2014 01:01
To Outlier #1: 'If they are active members of Israeli' society, they must share the burden of making that society function. ' That depends how you look at it. Why is desirable that Israel's society function?

5 ) Maureen / Australia
13/04/2014 06:04
#1 OutLiar Israel's function is one of theft and inhumanity to the indigenous of Palestine! No wonder orthodox Jewish people refuse to participate in Israel's war crimes!

6 ) Outlier / USA
13/04/2014 18:59
2,3 I appreciate your information and additions to this discourse. 4,5 Name calling and selective morality are not effective arguments.

7 ) Robert Chapman / US
16/04/2014 14:19
#6 , anwser me 1 thing . Why no honest debate about Palestine/ Israel ?. Easy enough .. and do you think pollard should be free.
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