Netanyahu seeks to press ultra-Orthodox Jews into military… | WORLD
Sound journalism, grounded in facts and Biblical truth | Donate

Netanyahu seeks to press ultra-Orthodox Jews into military service

A police water cannon strikes ultra-Orthodox Jews protesting mandatory military service. Associated Press/Photo by Ohad Zwigenberg

Netanyahu seeks to press ultra-Orthodox Jews into military service

Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu on Wednesday pushed for the law to achieve broad consensus, according to a statement from his office. Security establishment staff had reviewed the bill and said it would be submitted to the Ministerial Committee on Legislation on Thursday. The law would eliminate exceptions for ultra-Orthodox Jews from Israel’s mandatory military service.

Hasn’t Netanyahu already tried to get this law passed? In 2022, Benny Gantz, who was then serving as Israel’s Defense Minister, first proposed the bill and it passed an initial vote. The bill the prime minister is currently pushing for is identical to a previous version, according to Netanyahu’s office. Netanyahu called on all the factions of Israeli’s Knesset, or parliament, that supported the proposal initially to support it again.

What’s the state of this ultra-Orthodox military service exception right now? The Israeli Supreme Court ruled in 1998 that mandatory military service exceptions for ultra-Orthodox Jews were illegitimate. The Court ordered the Israeli government to pass a law requiring them to serve in the military. The Israeli government has continuously asked for extensions to meet court order and has not yet passed a law in keeping with it. Meanwhile, Ultra-Orthodox Jews have been able to evade the draft while attending a religious school. But in March, the Israeli high court ordered an end to government subsidies for those schools.

Has support for the legislation changed over the last two years? Gantz, who originally proposed the law in 2022, no longer supports it, according to a report by Jewish Insider. In March, Ultra-Orthodox Jewish Knesset member Moshe Gafni criticized the Israeli Supreme Court’s decision to eliminate government subsidies for religious schools, saying that it harmed everyone in his religious community, according to a translation. Torah elders would decide how he and other ultra-Orthodox Jews would respond politically to the decision, he said. Fellow ultra-Orthodox political leader Ariye Deri also has criticized the court’s decision, saying that it creates a war within the country at the same time as Israel is facing a war against external opponents.

Dig deeper: From the WORLD archives, read Jenny Lind Schmitt’s report about how Israel is grappling with the tension between its historic Jewish identity and its ongoing secularization.

Josh Schumacher

Josh is a breaking news reporter for WORLD. He’s a graduate of World Journalism Institute and Patrick Henry College.

An actual newsletter worth subscribing to instead of just a collection of links. —Adam

Sign up to receive The Sift email newsletter each weekday morning for the latest headlines from WORLD’s breaking news team.

Please wait while we load the latest comments...