Israel ends ultra-Orthodox military service exemptions

The new legislation sets annual quotas for the drafting of yeshiva students for military or civilian national service. The goal is to enlist 5,200 per year - about 60% of those of draft age - by mid-2017.

If the quota is not met by then, the government will introduce mandatory military service for all but 1,800 “gifted scholars” each year and impose criminal sanctions on draft-dodgers, including imprisonment - something that has enraged ultra-Orthodox leaders.

Secular critics of the legislation have meanwhile said it does not come close to equalising the social burden and plan to petition the Supreme Court to nullify it. The court ruled in 2012 that the exemptions for seminary students were unconstitutional.

Israel expects every man to do his duty.

The ultra-Orthodox argue that their lives of prayer and religious study has benefited the secular state because Israel has won most of its wars and is prosperous.

More on the ultra-Orthodox in Israel:

Video of BBC Reporter John Ware visiting an ultra-Orthodox community and yeshiva in Israel (From BBC documentary Israel: Facing the Future [great documentary BTW; saw it on my local PBS station]):

Hoo boy. What a strange, compromised piece of legislation. I also can’t imagine that this won’t exacerbate the tensions between more secular Israeli Jews and the Haredim.

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