Sunday, July 7, 2013

Israeli Cabinet Passes Ultra-Orthodox Draft Law; Angers Ultra-Orthodox Men,Exempt Since 1948

Israel's cabinet approved a draft law today (July 7, 2013) to abolish wholesale exemptions from military duty granted to Jewish seminary students, stoking ultra-Orthodox anger over the break with tradition, according to the Reuters website.

Many Israelis have long bridled over state privileges handed to the conservative believers or "Haredim" -- a Hebrew term meaning "those who tremble before God."

Most Israeli men and women are called up for military service for up to three years when they turn 18, and often see active service in the occupied West Bank and other flashpoints.

But ultra-Orthodox men studying in seminaries, religious women, and Arab citizens of Israel have been exempted since the state of Israel was formed in 1948. Under the proposed law, only 1,800 of those students -- designated "outstanding biblical scholars" -- would get an exemption, out of the estimated 8,000 who become eligible for the draft every year.

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