Thousands of Haredim took to the streets Thursday afternoon, blocked the roads in several cites and threw Molotov cocktails at police, who arrested more than three dozen protesters.
The riot ostensibly was over the arrest and five-day jail sentence of a Haredi youth for not reporting to the IDF after receiving a draft notice, but that was only another splash of oil on the fire lit by the Supreme Court on Wednesday.
The judges told the government to stop funding yeshivas whose students do not serve in the military. The government currently is in new territory because it has not yet come up with a new law concerning military service Haredim.
The Haredi protest, as usual, managed to disrupt as much traffic as possible and irritate as many fellow Jews as possible to make sure that the general public has more reason to be intolerant of a community that does not tolerate government law that is not to its liking.
Police used water cannons and rode on horses to disperse the protests that blocked the entrance to Jerusalem from the Tel Aviv highway.
Other demonstrations took place at Bnei Brak and Ashdod, where more than a dozen Haredi protesters were arrested for assaulting police and causing public unrest.
As for the yeshiva student who was arrested and jailed, and Haredi leaders threatened there are thousands of others who are ready to join him and crowd the prisons to Standing Room Only.
Jerusalem Haredi Rabbi David Zicherman said, “We will start a war with the State of Israel, and it will burn like wildfire. We, Holocaust survivors, are now encountering a spiritual Holocaust” because they are ordered to leave their yeshivas to serve in the army.
Haredi leader could initiate a far more effective protest that might be even be more uncomfortable for the largely secular Israeli public. They could enlist en masse, take advantage of the special IDF programs for Haredi soldiers and spend part of their days of training and service by learning Torah and doing some “kiruv” to educate non-religious soldiers. The Haredi youth could perform a big mitzvah by sharing some of their knowledge of Torah with soldiers who don’t know the difference between Kiddush and Kaddish.
The result would be either the IDF saying it can’t handle any more Haredi youth and that they should go back to learning, or perhaps enough non-religious soldiers would see the Light of Torah and turn the IDF into a religious army and not just an Israeli army.
About the Author: Tzvi Ben Gedalyahu is a graduate in journalism and economics from The George Washington University. He has worked as a cub reporter in rural Virginia and as senior copy editor for major Canadian metropolitan dailies. Tzvi wrote for Arutz Sheva for several years before joining the Jewish Press.
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