March 2, 2014


Jerusalem protest unites Haredim against army service : Even relative moderates in the massive ultra-Orthodox crowd wax vociferous over criminal sanctions for draft-dodgers (
Mitch Ginsburg, 3/02/14, The Times of Israel)

Everyone I spoke to at the protest prayer on Sunday afternoon - and I tried to speak with those who appeared on the more moderate side of the ultra-Orthodox camp, the sort of young men who might consider military or national service - was convinced it would only increase the animosity and unite all behind a staunchly rejectionist leadership.

"They used to say, 'Whoever is not studying should go to the army,'" said Shai Dvir, a 17-year-old student from the Torat Chaim Yeshiva in Modi'in Illit. "Today they say, 'Don't anybody dare.'"

Dvir, in gray slacks, stood with a group of friends. Most wore fashionable glasses, velvet yarmulkes and short sidelocks. Some smoked cigarettes, some worked on a pocketful of sunflower seeds. They interviewed me at length about the perception of the ultra-Orthodox in the secular world. Dvir even said he was "curious about the army." But all agreed that the government's show of force in criminalizing draft-dodging made the notion unthinkable.

Benzion Hefetz, the most vociferous of the bunch, said he felt the divide between the ultra-Orthodox and the rest of Israeli society was more entrenched and less solvable even than the Arab-Israeli conflict. "The gap is even greater," he said.

Posted by at March 2, 2014 3:24 PM

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