Wearing long black coats, yarmulkes on their heads and with long beards and sideburns, one might not expect Orthodox Jews to be among the critics of Israel’s military draft, which compels most Jewish men and women as well as Druze to serve in the Israel Defense Forces (IDF). But on August 11, thousands of Orthodox Jews gathered in the US state of New Jersey to protest the draft of their community into Israel’s military at a conference organized by the Rabbinical Alliance of the US and Canada.
“About a dozen Orthodox Jewish men are currently serving time in Israeli prisons and are being brutalized for their religious principled refusal to enlist in the Israeli Defense Force,” read a press release on the conference, sent to Al Bawaba by the Neturei Karta International’s email account.
Neturei Karta is a religious Jewish group known for their strong anti-Zionist views. Their leader Rabbi Yisroel Dovid Weiss has even met with Hamas and Iranian political leaders.
“Those young men, their objection into being recruited into that immoral army is on religious grounds,” said Rabbi Aron Jacobowitz to members of the press at the event.
Some ultra-Orthodox Jews oppose the State of Israel for religious reasons, believing that “Jews are forbidden to create their own state” by the Torah, as a sign behind the rabbi read.
However, such Jews also have moral qualms with the IDF’s actions, as evident in the rabbi’s labelling of the IDF as an “immoral army.” The aforementioned press release also said the IDF partakes in “wicked actions” and called them “illegitimate”.
Organizers claim 3,000 attended the conference. On the same day, anti-Zionist Jews in Jerusalem organized a protest of the draft.
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