Israeli lawmakers expressed outrage Tuesday night in response to an 8-1 ruling by Israel’s highest court overturning an amendment to the Conscription Law ratified two years ago by the Knesset.
Interior Minister and Sephardic religious Shas party chairman Aryeh Deri responded to the ruling, saying students in yeshivot would “continue their studies even after this ruling and thereby defend the people of Israel. We’ll do everything in our power to amend the law in a manner enabling the continuation of the current arrangement.”
Bayit Yehudi MK and Agriculture Minister Uri Ariel condemned the ruling by the court, slamming the judges for interfering with the legislative process. Ariel joined fellow MK Betzalel Smotrich in saying that the judges were acting as “a law unto themselves” against the will of the public.
“We will act immediately in the new Knesset session to legislate an override clause to put an end to the rule of tyranny of the High Court,” the two lawmakers said.
“The only way to encourage [military] enlistment is through dialogue and broad agreement of community leaders and their representatives in Knesset,” they said, “not in the courts and through coercive efforts, which will create the opposite effect and harm the IDF.”
United Torah Judaism Knesset Member Yisrael Eichler likewise castigated the court, saying in a statement that the judges proved with the ruling “the sole motivation behind its decisions is a dictatorial hunger for power, to oppose the laws of the elected Knesset. The High Court judges will bear personal responsibility for the all-out war on Judaism,” Eichler warned.
Numerous other hareidi-religious lawmakers had similar comments, vowing to battle the ruling as well.
Hareidi-religious rabbinic students were exempt from military service for decades based on an agreement with Israel’s first Prime Minister, David Ben-Gurion, on the grounds that “their studies are their craft.”
But it’s not only rabbinic students who have merited such exemptions, although it’s the rabbinic students against whom the leftist media and NGOs are constantly filing legal petitions and creating public demonstrations in Tel Aviv.
The fact is, there are also many exceptional musicians, artists, entertainers and athletes who also are granted exemptions from military service on the grounds they will lose traction in their careers if they lose time with army service.
Moreover, observant Jewish girls have also been allowed for decades to opt for National Service rather than enlist in the military, although this, too, has in the past two years been ignored in an arbitrary manner by the IDF. There have been a number of cases in which military police have arrested hareidi-religious Jewish girls — and rabbinic students — and then taken them into custody for “dodging the draft,” triggering mass protests among the yeshiva populations in Jerusalem, Bnei Brak and Beit Shemesh, among other cities.
The draft is optional for Christian Arabs, Bedouin and Druze citizens in Israel.