The Eidah Chareidis Rabbinical Court of Jerusalem, in conjunction with the Satmar communities in Jerusalem and Bnei Brak and Rabbi Shmuel Auerbach, has called for a demonstration in the streets of Jerusalem at 7:30 pm Tuesday to protest the IDF draft law.
Press releases for the march boast some '500,000' expected attendees, to begin demonstrating from Shabbat Sqaure ('Kikar Hashabbat') and march up Malchei Yisroel Street in the Geulah neighborhood.
The march specifically protests a November amendment to a 2014 law which would have enforced the nationwide mandatory draft for the haredi population, but extended a grace period to eight years and allows for exemptions for the haredi community at large after that time.
Despite these concessions, organizers claim the protest is over the fact that the law "agrees in principle to the drafting of boys, and may lead in the future to an actual forced draft."
“We must be very careful not to cooperate, and not to register at the recruitment center,” Rabbi Auerbach stated at a rabbinical gathering Saturday. “Going to that place brings coldness into our camp. We have to cry and cry over what we hear each day. A number of yeshiva students went on their own initiative, and they tried to convince them to enlist. It’s unbelievable.”
“The Orthodox community in the Holy Land views the Israeli government’s plan to draft them as a direct attack on their freedom of religion,” said Yirmiyahu Cohen, a spokesman for True Torah Jews, a New York-based organization that has been at the forefront of the battle against equal enforcement of the draft for several years. “According to the Torah, G-d commanded the Jewish people in this era not to fight any wars against other nations."
"The current Israeli government plans to force the Orthodox to violate their conscience and principles," he further claimed. "They should be exempt just like the Israeli Arabs, whom the Israelis do not expect to fight against their Arab brethren."
Cohen then claimed that the argument that the haredi community must participate in the IDF as part of bearing the national burden to protect the Jewish people is invalid because some haredi Jews "were living there [in Israel - ed.] a hundred years before the Zionist movement even began."
"The Orthodox community lived peacefully alongside the Arabs in the 1800s," he insisted. "It was Zionism that gave rise to the current conflict, so they should not expect the Orthodox to help them deal with the problem they created."
“Even deferring the implementation of the law by a number of years is unacceptable, because we have to come out openly and proudly show our resistance to the draft. We have to publicize the true reason for our refusal to participate.”
It bears noting that Israeli Jews faced persecution in Israel before 1948, with Jews under Muslim rule facing persecution, poverty, and even death. The Jewish community of Hevron, for example, was ethnically cleansed in "pre-Zionist" Israel, decimated out of pure anti-Semitism during the 1929 Hevron massacre.