Daily Israel Report

Rabbi Auerbach: Now is Not the Time to Protest IDF Draft

Follower of hareidi rabbi says given the current security escalation he opposes protests such as yesterday's in Jerusalem.
By Ari Soffer and Haim Lev
First Publish: 8/20/2014, 8:26 AM

Tuesday's protest in Meah Shearim
Tuesday's protest in Meah Shearim
Flash 90

Prominent hareidi leader Rabbi Shmuel Auerbach has said that given the current security situation "now is not the time" for demonstrations against the IDF draft, according to one of his leading followers.

Speaking to Arutz Sheva, a leading follower of the rabbi said he was currently opposed to rallies such as the one which took place yesterday at Jerusalem's Kikar Shabbat intersection in the hareidi neighborhood of Meah Shearim, in which some 2,000 hareidim protested the arrest of a yeshiva student who had refused to respond to his IDF summons.

The protest was largely peaceful, but at least one arrest was made after some demonstrators clashed with police.

"We are not looking for 'action'," said the source, speaking on condition of anonymity."We oppose such conduct... this is not the time for such protests," he added.

The conciliatory stance by Rabbi Auerbach is relatively surprising, given that he is often seen as the leader of the more extremist stream within the hareidi sector, and has often clashed with more moderate rabbis over their response to the government's decision to end the blanket exemption from military service for hareidi men.

The so-called "Draft Law" which would level criminal sanctions on hareidi students who dodge military service only comes into full force in 2017. For now, hareidi students are still able to defer service or obtain exemptions as they were before - by turning up to the IDF's enlistment office and applying for one there.

The handful of cases, such as yesterday's, in which arrests have been made have either occurred when the individuals in question refused to turn up to the enlistment office at all as a form of protest, or after they were arrested for unrelated criminal offenses.