In a landmark 9-0 decision on Tuesday, Israel’s High Court of Justice ruled that the government must draft Jewish orthodox men into the military,

The controversial ruling, which deemed the current exemption law for yeshiva students “unconstitutional,” comes amidst heightened public pressure for Israelis to contribute towards the Gaza war effort.

However, some in the orthodox community consider military service a distraction from Torah study and a threat to their way of life.

United Torah Judaism (UTJ) along with several orthodox parties are threatening to quit the government if yeshiva students are drafted en masse. 

“There has never been a ruling by the Supreme Court in favor of the members of the yeshivas and in the interest of the ultra-Orthodox public. There is not a single judge there who understands the value of learning the Torah and their contribution to the people of Israel in all generations,” UTJ MK Moshe Gafni wrote on X.

UTJ Jewish Heritage Minister Meir Porush Goldknopf issued a similar condemnation, warning that the court’s decision could lead to “two states” in Israel.

“One, this is the country that is being run as it is now. And another country where the members of the yeshivahs will continue to study Torah as they used to in the country that Ben-Gurion declared. There is no power in the world that can force a person whose soul longs to study Torah to refrain from it,” he said.

Meanwhile, opposition figures such as Labor Party chief Yair Golan argue that the duty of security and civil service should apply to everyone.

“Congratulations on a just decision of the High Court of Justice,” Golan posted on X. “The duty of security and civil service should apply to every young Israeli man and woman, regardless of religion, race and gender.”

In an attempt to find a compromise, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu has put forward a bill that seeks to lower the age of exemption for ultra-Orthodox yeshiva students from 26 to 21 and gradually increase enlistment to 35% by 2036.

As the debate over yeshiva conscription rages on, Israel finds itself at a crossroads grappling with the challenges of gifting a now eight-month war against Hamas. It remains to be seen whether a compromise can be reached or if the divide between Israel’s secular and religious communities will threaten the very identity of the Jewish State.

    Natan Slifkin June 26, 2024 1:21 pm

    This is not a test of “Jewish” identity, nor a divide between secular and religious communities. There is an entire religious community, with hundreds of yeshivos, which serves in the IDF. It’s called the Dati-Leumi community. You should learn about it.

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