Thousands of hareidi-religious Jews rallied Monday night in Jerusalem
to protest the proposed universal draft law that would recruit all
Israeli citizens, including men and women, observant Jews of all
stripes and Arabs, at age 18, without exemptions.
At least 2,500 men and boys gathered in Kikar Shabbat (Shabbat
Square) in the Meah Shearim neighborhood at a demonstration organized
by the Eida HaHareidit [an u ltra orthodox anti-Zionist group, ed.]
to protest the proposed law. Many of the children and youths were
wearing handcuffs and waving signs that read, “Mommy and Tatti, Save
Speaking from the podium, a rabbi exhorted the crowd to “remain Jews
who observe the Torah and mitzvos” even if “they lock us up and beat
The demonstration was being held against the backdrop of a flurry of
proposals for a universal draft that would recruit all Israeli
citizens to the army at age 18, regardless of status, including Arabs
as well as Jews.
Up to this year, the Tal Law, formulated by retired Supreme Court
Justice Tzvi Tal, allowed yeshiva students to obtain exemptions from
the draft. At age 22, the student could choose between one year of
civil service with a paying job, or an abbreviated 16-month tour of
duty, with future service in reserves, as an alternative to continued
yeshiva life and a way to encourage joining the work force.
However, the High Court of Justice ruled the Tal Law to be
unconstitutional this past February after a suit was filed by secular
citizens claiming it was unegalitarian.