leaders of Israel’s hassidic Jewish community have postponed a planned US tour
intended to drum up opposition to government plans to draft yeshiva students
into the IDF, an aide to United Torah Judaism MK Yisrael Eichler confirmed to
The Jerusalem Post on Monday.
The grand rabbis, or admorim, of the
largest hassidic dynasties in Israel were all expected to travel to the US on
what is being referred to as the Council’s Voyage, including the heads of the
Gur, Belz, Vizhnitz, Sanz, Sadigora and Boyan hassidic courts.
addition to the admorim, three MKs from the Agudat Yisrael political party, the
hassidic half of the United Torah Judaism Knesset faction – Eichler, Ya’acov
Litzman, Meir Porush – were all reported to have planned on taking part in the
Speaking on the haredi radio station Kol Barama last Wednesday,
Eichler said the purpose of the trip was to “enlist the Jewish community of the
United States to generate diplomatic pressure on this wicked
Eichler asserted that the “secular regime has declared a
total war on haredi Judaism,” and that it prevents housing starts for haredim,
demands academic qualifications for entering employment, interferes with haredi
education, and is demanding that haredim be drafted into military
“If the government continues with these decrees, international
human rights will be required to investigate the discrimination and to ask how a
prospering state creates 800,000 poor children,” he said.
a meeting in Bnei Brak between several American ultra-Orthodox leaders and MKs
Litzman and Eichler, a decision was made to postpone the tour and a massive
planned protest rally, due to the concern that “the gathering will not be
understood properly, and that it might stir up anti-Semitism.”
consultation with the leading ultra-0rthodox rabbis, it was decided to postpone
the trip at this stage,” the aide said.
The US Jews, who were not named,
were also reported to have met with associates of Prime Minister Binyamin
Netanyahu and with Kotel Rabbi Shmuel Rabinowitz.
A major anti-draft
rally planned for Manhattan for April was canceled following what Agudath Israel
of America termed “security concerns” in the wake of the Boston Marathon
bombing. The Satmar Hassidim subsequently held a 20,000-person rally in
Manhattan in June against both the draft and the State of Israel.
major rabbis of the non-hassidic “Lithuanian” ultra-Orthodox community in Israel
were reportedly against the Satmar rally.
Prior to the Satmar rally,
Rabbi Haim Kanievsky, one of the leading rabbis of the Lithuanian movement,
reportedly stated that the “main thing is to increase Torah learning, the fear
of Heaven and prayer” in order to prevent conscription.
announcement of the cancellation of the grand rabbis’ tour, MK Dov Lipman (Yesh
Atid), an ordained ultra-Orthodox Rabbi and a proponent of the draft law, told
the Post that he hoped that the organizers realized “how absurd such a
demonstration would be.”
Moshe Ya’alon (Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem
Post) Mudar Zahran (Courtesy) Naftali Bennett (Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem
Post) Tzipi Livni (Marc Israel Sellem/The Jerusalem Post) MOURNERS CARRY the
body of 22-year-old Odah Hamad at his funeral in the Gaza Strip town of Beit
Hanoun on December 21. Hamad was killed by the IDF the day before in one of a
series of cross-border incidents. (Suhaib Salem/Reuters