Israel curbs its conscription exemptions: draft law puts the squeeze on Torah troops
The Israeli Cabinet has approved a draft law limiting exemptions from military conscription granted to Jewish seminary students, precipitating uber-Orthodox objection, according to Reuters on July 7. The new law would curb the number of exemptions, which have been in place since 1948, to only 1,800 students deemed "outstanding biblical scholars, " of the roughly 8,000 students still eligible for the draft each year.
Many Israelis have long since been roiled over state exemptions served to the conservative faithful or "Haredim" - literally "those who tremble before God" in the Hebrew.
A majority of Israeli citizens serve in the military for up to three years when they turn 18.
The debate saw a flash point earlier this year when elections in January saw successful performances by parties who campaigned against these controversial exemptions. The ultra-Orthodox community were left out in the cold when these elections resulted in the first cabinet in a decade missing members of the conservative set.
Who qualifies for military exemptions?
Ultra-Orthodox men studying in seminaries, religious women and Arab citizens of Israel have been exonerated of the duty to serve, granted military exemptions, since the Jewish state was formed in 1948.