The “Camp Sucker” movement lobbying against ultra- Orthodox exemption from
national service stopped off in Efrat on Thursday evening, joined by MK David
Rotem, prominent national-religious leader Rabbi Yuval Cherlow and other figures
from the national religious and settler movements.
Camp Sucker leaders
Boaz Nul and Idan Miller said they were protesting in Efrat to demonstrate that
the their fight was not one between religious and secular communities or a
political battle between Left and Right, but one of values.
“This is a
struggle for the values and ethical character of Israeli society,” said Miller.
“It is a struggle for the need to restore the values of service and sacrifice as
foundational principles for the state, which form the glue that connects the
different parts of Israeli society.”
Cherlow, dean of the Petah Tikva
Hesder Yeshiva, agreed that the demand for all sectors of society to perform
national service was an ethical issue.
“When the tribes of Reuven and Gad
asked Moses if they could settle on the eastern side of the Jordan, he asked
them, ‘Shall your brothers go to war and you will sit here?’” Cherlow said, in
reference to the biblical account of the Israelite preparations to conquer the
Land of Israel.
“From an ethical and religious perspective this is
unacceptable,” he continued.
Cherlow stated that he does not, however,
support instituting a law that would coercively draft the ultra-Orthodox into
national service, and said that “ethical pressure” should be employed to
persuade the haredi community to take part in national service
Tools such as preferential treatment for employment in the
state sector and financial incentives for those who serve should also be used,
The rabbi added that despite the importance of the commandment
to study Torah, it does not override the obligations of performing other Torah
commandments, including the obligation to go to war to defend the
“The commandment of Torah study is more important than building a
succa, but that doesn’t mean you’re not obligated to build a succa, or to
acquire the four species, or listen to the shofar on Rosh Hashana,” Cherlow
Speaking with The Jerusalem Post, Rotem questioned the wording of
the new stage of the Camp Sucker campaign, “Bibi, you promised, now
“So what if Bibi promised,” Rotem said acerbically. “He’s
promised many things. And anyway, he’s not the prime minister, the
Rotem denied that any deal has been made to
implement what have become known as the Elkin parameters, after coalition
chairman Ze’ev Elkin, who is in favor of establishing a minimum number of haredi
recruits every year, instead of mandating service for all.
“We are still
at war on this issue, and we are still insisting on service for all,” Rotem
said, outlining the Yisrael Beytenu proposals that the army should take its pick
of whoever it wants for military service and everyone else be drafted into
national service programs.
Speaking to the small crowd assembled in the
settlement, head of the Efrat regional council Oded Ravivi said that his call
for service for all was aimed not only at the ultra- Orthodox community but also
at those in Gush Dan who did not serve either.
“Head of the IDF Manpower
Directorate Orna Barbivai has said that the rate of enlistment from Judea and
Samaria is twice that of Gush Dan,” Ravivi explained.
that we here in Efrat when talking of the need for service for all also direct
our call at those living in the center of the country as well.”
public and political pressure, the haredi leadership has in recent days
continued to voice extreme opposition to a mandatory draft for fulltime yeshiva
On Wednesday night, Deputy Health Minister MK Ya’akov Litzman
of United Torah Judaism warned that his party would leave the coalition if the
yeshiva students were not able to remain in study.
“If someone who wants
to learn Torah is not allowed to learn Torah we will not be able to continue in
the coalition,” Litzman said in an interview with haredi radio station Radio Kol
And Rabbi Aharon Leib Shteinman, the spiritual leader of the haredi,
non-hassidic community, told MKs Uri Maklev and Moshe Gafni of the Degel HaTorah
political faction (part of UTJ) this week that there is no debate to be had
about drafting yeshiva students.
“There is no room here for discussion,
nothing at all on which to compromise, and nothing for which [we need to] sit
down with them,” Shteinman told the MKs according to a report from the Degel
Hatorah mouthpiece Yated Ne’eman on Wednesday.
The rabbi said that the
years between 20 and 30 are precisely those in which a yeshiva student needs to
be studying Torah.
“We cannot give up on any yeshiva student who wants to
study, it’s not open to discussion and it’s not a topic for negotiation, we’re
talking about actual life and death here,” he continued.
that in addition to this point of principle, the army itself was very
problematic for the lifestyle of an ultra-Orthodox man, where he is confronted
with the possibility of severely transgressing Torah
Director of the religious-freedom lobbying group Uri Regev
said that Shteinman’s comments served to highlight the leadership crisis within
the haredi community.