haredi girls 311.
(photo credit: Ariel Jerozolimski)
Girls who are found to have lied about their religious observance in order to
avoid IDF service will be forced to enlist, according to a bill prepared for its
second and third (final) readings by the Knesset Foreign Affairs and Defense
Committee on Tuesday.
Currently, there are three conditions for girls to
be exempted from military service for religious reasons: keeping kashrut, not
traveling on Saturdays and a “religious lifestyle” in their home. Most students
in religious girls’ schools receive an automatic exemption.
Those who did
not attend Orthodox schools in Israel, must testify before a committee in their
The new government-proposed bill, which will be brought
to the plenum for its final votes in the coming weeks, demands that the girls
continue to live the lifestyle they declared when they received the
If the IDF catches the girl violating her commitment, it may
put her on trial, and she can defend herself. Alternatively, if a girl stops
being religious, she may report the fact to the IDF.
According to the
IDF’s Manpower Directorate, hundreds more girls will join the IDF, should the
United Torah Judaism MK Moshe Gafni spoke out against the
legislation, saying it “reeks of underhanded opportunism” and is
He called for the bill to not apply to national-religious
and haredi (ultra-Orthodox) girls.
Coalition chairman Ze’ev Elkin
(Likud) chaired the meeting on the bill, and pointed out that the bill only
changes the situation of girls who lie about their religious status, or stop
being observant after receiving an exemption. Therefore, it does not apply to
Gafni responded that he does not think women should have to
enlist in the IDF at all, but he does not want to help liars, either. He
explained he simply wants to ensure religious women are not forced into military
The UTJ member of Knesset also took issue with the members of
the rabbinate committees and joked that a Hassidic haredi committee may say that
a Lithuanian haredi woman is not sufficiently religious because she would walk
next to her husband in public.
Elkin, in response, said he is trying to
hold a serious discussion, and Gafni apologized for “trying to lighten the
The argument between Gafni and Elkin continued for nearly an hour,
in what appeared to be an attempt by Gafni to filibuster the committee
After requesting permission to speak, MK Eitan Cabel (Labor)
suggested Elkin and Gafni seek couple’s therapy.
Cabel said Gafni is
“putting on a show,” but also voiced opposition to the bill, because, in his
opinion, not one person will be put on trial after it passes.
up in a national-religious family and attended a yeshiva before choosing to
become secular, and said that “someone like me should have to go to the
However, he said, the phrase “religious lifestyle” is too vague,
and if he were a girl, he probably could have been exempt from service, Cabel
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