January 20, 2019

Torah Study as National Service

“As Israel heads to general elections this April, the responsibility for enacting a mandatory draft law has effectively been pushed off to the next government.

The outgoing coalition managed to propose a version of the law that at least initially received the support of Avigdor Liberman and Yair Lapid, chairmen of the secular Yisrael Beytenu and Yesh Atid parties respectively. However, the ultra-Orthodox coalition partners refused to support the proposal, and the Israeli High Court of Justice with its power of judicial review, has restricted the ability of the Knesset to successfully enact legislation on the issue. In light of the continued stalemate between politicians of different factions – as well as between the Knesset and the High Court of Justice – it remains to be seen whether there can or will be any progress in finding a long-term solution.

What is clear to at least the majority of Israeli society is that a full and comprehensive mandatory draft of ultra-Orthodox yeshiva students is not a feasible option. Neither Israeli society nor the army seek such an approach.”

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