Haredi MK: Yeshiva students can serve in IDF if everyone else learns Torah

Israel should place as much emphasis on Torah study as it does on defense, a top ultra-Orthodox lawmaker said Thursday, the latest senior figure in a possible incoming government to recommend adopting laws based on biblical strictness. has been made.

Moshe Gafni of United Torah Judaism, who is currently pushing for legislation to formalize a blanket exemption from mandatory military duty for full-time yeshiva students, said that yeshiva students can serve in the military, but only If they are turned into religious seminaries by people who would otherwise be going to the army.

“There cannot be a Jewish state without Torah students,” he told a conference in Tel Aviv.

Gafni said, “When there were bloody wars during the reign of King David, the prophet came to King David and told him, ‘Half of the people would study Torah and half would serve in the army, and they would switch.’

The UTJ Knesset member proposed a similar arrangement for contemporary Israel.

“Students from the Ponevez yeshiva will go into the military, to take on combat roles, but bring in high school students to study Torah at the same time,” he said, referring to a prestigious Haredi yeshiva in his hometown of Bnei Brak. Happened.

Gafni said that each person “does what he can to serve his country, to serve his people.”

Ultra-Orthodox men walk outside the IDF recruitment office in Jerusalem on December 5, 2019. (Olivier Fitoussi/Flash90)

He also claimed that it was impossible to combine military service and university studies.

“Our people, who went through the Holocaust, the disasters, the Inquisition and the Crusades, eventually returned to their land because of the fact that they were always students of the Torah,” he said.

The outgoing Deputy Defense Minister condemned Gafni’s remarks.

“This remark will lead to the end of the people’s army and anarchy. Instead of this divisive formulation, I suggest a unifying one: everyone reads and everyone serves,” Alon Schuster told Radio 103 FM.

Gafni’s comments came after the head of religious Judaism, Bezalel Smotrich, who is set to become finance minister, told a magazine he planned to implement trust policies based on the Bible.

“They’ve tried many different economic systems, haven’t they? They’ve tried capitalism, neo-socialism, but there’s one thing they haven’t tried — an economic approach called ‘So if you honestly believe,’ Smotrich told the Haredi weekly Mishpacha, citing a verse in Deuteronomy promising abundant rain and harvest if the Jewish people obeyed God’s commandments.

The issue of conscripting ultra-Orthodox youth into the military has been a central focus in coalition talks between the UTJ and presumptive incoming prime minister Benjamin Netanyahu, who is working to form a government led by the right-religious bloc, which won Knesset seats. has secured a majority. in the general election last month

During Thursday’s appearance, Gafni declined to address proposed legislation exempting yeshiva students from IDF service.

“I want the status quo to remain. I will not go into details about the recruitment law,” he said.

Ultra-Orthodox Jews clash with police in Jerusalem as they protest the arrest of a draft-dodging yeshiva student, December 22, 2020. (Jonathan Sindel/Flash90)

Israel went to the polls in November for the fifth time since the Netanyahu-led government was dissolved in late 2018, partly because of opposition to the proposed law from its ultra-Orthodox allies, but ultimately Quotas were imposed on yeshivas. That proposal was drafted in response to a 2017 High Court ruling that struck down a previous law that had given wide exemptions.

In response to the court’s ruling, the UTJ and fellow Haredi ruling party are also advocating a so-called override clause, which would allow the Knesset to overturn High Court rulings before the courts approve the law on waivers. Will be clear.

Far-right factions affiliated with Netanyahu and members of his Likud party also support the override clause, and some have introduced proposals that could end his ongoing trial on corruption charges.

The proposed judicial changes – particularly the override clause – have been condemned by Netanyahu’s political rivals, prominent legal figures such as the head of the Israel Bar Association, a group of law professors and prominent US attorney Alan Dershowitz.

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