Hundreds of Haredi demonstrators on Thursday blocked traffic in Jerusalem for more than an hour and battled police in a stormy rally against the draft and the recent arrest of a yeshiva student who failed to register at the draft office.
In many Haredi enclaves across Israel hundreds and sometime thousands also blocked intersections and clashed with police.
The provocation was a Supreme Court decision to block support grants to yeshiva students who haven’t registered to serve in the army. Another cause given was the arrest, a month ago, of one yeshiva student who had failed to register with the draft office.
Rabbi David Zicherman, one of the leaders of the Jerusalem Haredim, spoke heatedly before the demonstrators, calling the current situation Gzeirot Shmad-Jewish annihilation decrees of 5774.
Mind you, when Jewish history books use the term Gzeirot Shmad, they usually refer to the Roman or Greek occupation, when Jews were executed for leaning Torah or circumcising their sons. That is to say that Rabbi Zicherman might be exaggerating the severity of the current situation just a tad.
As his speech continued, it became clear that the good rabbi was not a man of understatements. He threatened the authorities that they would surely be facing “suicide squads who will give their lives for the Torah.”
Which brings up the question if doing a year and a half in the army won’t be quite a bit less injurious, seeing as the former option would also cut down Torah study most severely.
“One thing you can do,” Rabbi Zicherman advised, “Build, but right away, a Haredy prison, with sforim and sifrei Torah, with a mikvah, because there we will go happily, as ordered by our masters.”
But they already have such prisons, don’t they? They’re called Haredi yeshivot…
A few dozen demonstrators were arrested. The intersections were cleared eventually and thousands of furious motorists cold go on with their day.
No suicide squads were observed for the time being.