Rabbi Meir Mazuz
Rabbi Meir Mazuz Gush Katif Museum

A senior haredi rabbi and former member of the Shas rabbinic council warned that the haredi community in Israel is being weakened by internecine strife, and condemned the anti-draft ‘Yerushalmi Faction’ for its recent string of protests against the state.

Rabbi Meir Mazuz, the dean of the Kisei Rahamim Yeshiva and spiritual leader of the Yahad party, claimed in a recent lecture that the haredi community at large is increasingly suffering from internal divisions, leading to a multiplicity of petty disputes and sectarian conflicts.

“We haredim have a problem, everyone attacks everyone else – we fight over every single thing,” said Rabbi Mazuz.

During his lecture, Rabbi Mazuz cited the Yerushalmi Faction as an example, criticizing the radical anti-draft group for its deviation from the mainstream haredi position vis-à-vis the tactics used to protest against the draft.

While for decades most yeshiva students from the haredi community looking to avoid the draft have applied for the deferments offered to those who study in yeshiva full time, the Yerushalmi Faction has encouraged followers to refuse to interact with the army draft office in any way, and then to avoid the draft once, since they have not arranged deferments, their induction orders are issued.

“I spoke last time about why the Yerushalmi Faction is fighting against the exemptions [from army service offered to yeshiva students]. The Yerushalmi Faction says not to go to the army; [so I say], ‘Then go get a deferment like you should’. No, no, they don’t go [to request a deferment], they send them to prison. They get beaten,” added Rabbi Mazuz, referring to clashes between Yerushalmi Faction supporters and police at demonstrations.

“And this week I saw that the Satmar Rebbe, who himself is the leading [ant-Zionist] opponent of the State [of Israel] in the US, also says that what they’re doing is wrong, that they shouldn’t behave like that. It’s a mistake. He said to do what everyone does. Register them as being full-time students and [then the army] gives them [deferments].”

“What is this insanity? Why get beaten up for no reason?”