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Unraveling the Unrest

Eliezer Shulman, Shimon Breitkopf, Binyamin Rose

Questions and answers in the wake of a wave of protests

Wednesday, November 01, 2017

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The police are exercising relative restraint, using only water cannons and skunk spray against the Pele demonstrators. (Photos: AFP/Imagebank, Flash90)

T wo Jews, three opinions — it’s a storied stereotype and a truism too. Even within the world of Torah-observant Jewry, there has always been room and respect for different opinions and approaches. When that respect is eroded, and ideological differences devolve into machlokes, there is perhaps nothing more disturbing and painful than watching the ensuing strife overtake our fragile world.

Over the past few weeks, a fraught machlokes has spilled out of its contained corner and captured headlines and screens of observant Jews around the globe. As a publication that aims to showcase the positive and hopeful in our society, we closely watched developments to see if the situation would resolve, or if the demonstrations would lose steam. Unfortunately, it seems to be gaining strength and exposure among our global readership — and therefore, our mandate has changed accordingly. Instead of minimizing the issue, we’ve asked our most experienced reporters and writers from both our English and Hebrew-language departments to collaborate under the direction of our rabbinic board, to provide readers with a thorough grounding in the facts, figures, and phenomena that have led to the wave of demonstrations paralyzing major cities in Israel and sparked debate, dissension, and confusion.

It is neither our place nor our aim to advance specific political or sectarian agendas. Instead, we hope to provide the background understanding that our discerning readership seeks in an effort to comprehend what is fueling the fire.


The Draft Today

What is the standard process for a chareidi yeshivah bochur to delay or avoid army service?

As military service is compulsory for all Israeli boys once they reach 18, about two years beforehand, every Israeli approaching draft age receives a notice to report (“hityatzvut” in Hebrew) to a local IDF induction center. The IDF draws its information from the population registry at the Ministry of the Interior, and notices are mailed to every citizen — secular, religious, and chareidi.

The Peleg never applies for police permits for their demonstrations.

Once he reports, a yeshivah student has the option of declaring Toraso umanuso, meaning he is a full-time yeshivah student. Upon presentation of all the necessary documents proving enrollment in his yeshivah and others from the Vaad Hayeshivos, he receives a deferment that generally lasts for one year. Each year, he will receive a new notice to report, at which time he must again show proof there has been no change in his status. As long as he provides the necessary documentation, his deferment will be extended. In recent years, thanks to the efforts of chareidi MKs, arrangements have been made allowing for each yeshivah or several yeshivos to do their paperwork as a group and for the bochurim to come as a group to receive their deferments.

How and why would a chareidi yeshivah bochur end up in jail for avoiding army service?

Anyone who fails to report is in violation of the law, similar to someone who ignores a traffic ticket or court summons. The army pursues “draft dodgers” by sending military police to make surprise visits to their homes. In other cases, the draft dodgers are discovered after being apprehended by police in other venues — often on their way to and from shul, when stopped for traffic violations, or at demonstrations.

Once police cross-check their names in a database verifying their identity and that they ignored a draft notice, they are handed over to military police, who take them to a detention facility, and they can be forced to stand trial. (Excerpted from Mishpacha, Issue 683)

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