Satmar demands blanket draft exemptions

Anti-Zionist Hasidic movement asks Supreme Court to grant blanket exemption from IDF draft. 'State of Israel a sin against God.'

Tzvi Lev ,

Satmar Hassidim gather for lecture by Grand Rebbe Zalman Leib Teitelbaum
Satmar Hassidim gather for lecture by Grand Rebbe Zalman Leib Teitelbaum
Mendy Hechtman/FLASH90

The anti-Zionist Satmar hassidic movement has petitioned the High Court of Justice to order Israel's defense minister to grant them blanket exemptions from the IDF draft.

Yeshiva students are currently entitled to defer enlistment to the military by telling that defense ministry that they study Torah full time. Haredim commonly receive their deferment until they hit the age of 27, after which they become too old to serve in the IDF.

According to Kikar Hashabbat, Satmar says in their appeal that their refusal to recognize the State of Israel should force the defense minister to issue them blanket exemptions, sparing them the need to receive annual deferrals.

"The Satmar hassidim who live in the Land of Israel do not see themselves as belonging to the State of Israel," read the appeal. "In order to avoid cooperating with the terrible sin of the existence of the state, Satmar Hasidim recoil from any belonging to the state, its institutions, and its symbols."

The appeal went on to attack the State of Israel for what it said was "a grave sin representing a rebellion against God".

Satmar stressed that they also oppose the system of receiving an annual draft deferment because "the very act of getting the deferment replies recognition of the State of Israel and its institutions".

Justice David Mintz ordered the state to "submit a response to the petition regarding the claim that an exemption from service in the IDF must be granted for reasons of religion and faith". However, Mintz refused Satmar's request that he issue an interim injunction mandating the defense minister to issue the exemption until the case is settled.

Satmar, known as one of the most dogmatically anti-Zionist Hassidic sects, refuses to recognize the State of Israel and calls on members living in Israel not to vote in national elections, even for haredi parties and not to accept any funding from the state, including National Insurance payments.

Despite former Satmar leader Rabbi Yoel Teitelbaum's ban on living in Israel, over 10,000 Satmar hassidim live in Jerusalem's Meah Shearim and Geula neighborhoods.

Currently, one of the largest Hassidic movements in the world, Satmar has been split for more than a decade between the “Williamsburg Faction”, led by Rabbi Zalman Teitelbaum, and the “Kiryas Joel Faction”, headed by Zalman,’s older brother Rabbi Aharon Teitelbaum.