'We Will Fight Until the Death'
Disciples and followers of Rabbi Shmuel Auerbach, a major religious and political leader in the Lithuanitan stream of the hareidi sector, attended a rally Saturday night in the Tamir conference hall in Jerusalem against the hareidi draft law being formed in Knesset.
During the conference, Rabbi Auerbach encouraged his followers to fight, in no uncertain terms, against the conscription law and called not to succumb to any compromise with the authorities.
"Any rights to live in the State of Israel are due to the Torah learning within it, and when it harasses those who learn Torah it relinquishes its right to exist," the Rabbi fired. "Do not surrender to them."
"I appreciate the young men who are standing their ground on this," he added. "We will fight until the death for our rights."
Hareidi leaders have expressed strong opposition to criminal sanctions for yeshiva students, and some pro-enlistment leaders have warned that strong sanctions could create a backlash that would mean fewer hareidi men in the army, not more.
Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu reassured the hareidi public last week that the drama over the criminal sanctions is overhyped. “I won’t be a part of sending Jews to jail for studying Torah," he declared.
The new law was brought back into the public eye following a High Court ruling suspending funding to yeshivas whose students had their enlistment deferred. That postponement was ordered by Defense Minister Moshe Ya'alon to give the Shaked Committee time to finish its work.
While the ruling was thought to be meaningless, given that February's yeshiva funds had already been allocated, Finance Minister Yair Lapid took advantage of a loophole to retroactively cancel funding to all yeshivas earlier this month, sparking massive hareidi protests.