Israel’s Chief Rabbi Urges Religious Youth to Refuse Military Service

Israel’s chief rabbis met on Tuesday and called on religious young people not to follow conscription orders or go to relevant government offices.

The Israel Broadcasting Corporation quoted Lithuanian Rabbi Dov Landau as criticizing Defense Minister Yoav Galant’s decision to recruit Haredi youth, saying a state that recruits yeshiva students has no right to exist, adding that “it is completely suicidal to try to take away the rights of Torah students in time of war.”

“What’s the point of standing up when there’s no order and the military is at war with us? For what purpose? This government is against us in every way,” Rand added.

At the end of the meeting, Landor asked the chairman of the Yeshiva Committee, Rabbi Chaim Aharon Kaufman, to convey his views to the Sephardic and Hasidic rabbis in order to reach a unified position on the issue.

Rabbi Moshe Hillel Hirsch, head of the Slavodka yeshiva and one of the most prominent rabbis in Lithuania’s Haredi movement, also ordered yeshiva students to speak with ultra-Orthodox young people who are not studying in yeshivas and called on them not to follow any orders regarding conscription.

The BeHadrei Haredi website reported that the discussion took place at the rabbi’s home on Tuesday night, and according to people who attended the meeting, Hirsch demanded that no one go to the conscription offices, adding that representatives should be sent to all yeshivas to warn young people not to go and to absolutely refuse to be drafted.

Israeli Defense Minister Yoav Galant on Tuesday approved the army’s plan to start conscripting ultra-Orthodox Jews from August, citing “operational necessity,” but the move is likely to further strain relations within Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s right-wing coalition.

The Yedioth Ahronoth newspaper quoted Gallant as saying the army had reached an agreement with the Haredim to increase the number of recruits in the army by 5 percent each year, reaching 50 percent within five years.

Haredim make up about 13 percent of Israel’s population of about 9.7 million, claim to dedicate their lives to the study of Torah and do not typically serve in the military.

A few weeks ago, Israel’s Supreme Court ruled that Haredi men should be drafted because their lives were restricted to studying Judaism in religious institutions.

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