(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Ultra-Orthodox MK Menahem Eliezer Moses of the United Torah Judaism has said his party is not opposed to haredi men enlisting in the army and joining the workforce, but its efforts to void the legal obligation to perform national service by 2017 is a step against religious coercion.
Speaking to The Jerusalem Post earlier this week, Moses said the haredi conscription law passed at the behest of Yesh Atid in 2014 was counterproductive.
It was designed to force ultra-Orthodox men into national service and the work force by impoverishing the haredi community.
The new formula provided by an amendment drawn up by UTJ and Shas and proposed by the current government would allow for a more consensus- based process of integration into military service and the work force.
“This law came out of the workshop of Yesh Atid and [MK Yair] Lapid,” said Moses.
“Yesh Atid decreed upon us 23 decrees, each one worse than the other. The purpose was to impoverish us, and in so doing cause us to go to work and to go to the army.
“This is nonsense though, we withstood this with self-sacrifice every day.”
Asked whether or not the trend witnessed in recent years of increasing numbers of haredim going to the army, and of ultra-Orthodox men and women joining the workforce, was welcome, Moses said the phenomenon is “fine” and that UTJ ’s amendment was simply reversing an attempt to forcibly change the haredi community.
“We are fighting against coercion.That’s it. It is anti-religious coercion,” he said, arguing that the enlistment targets set under the 2014 law were too inflexible and would lead to the mass criminalization of thousands.
Yesh Atid MK Elazar Stern, who has strongly advocated for increased haredi enlistment to national service, said however that the community could easily fulfill the targets established by the law by 2017, and accused UTJ of seeking to make their voters dependent on the party.
“This law disturbs them because all of a sudden the haredi community can go out to work, to serve [in the army] and now their captive audience is a bit less captive. That’s what upsets them,” Stern told the Post.
“What does Moses mean we impoverished them? Do they want to be partners in the government only in order to receive? Did we not give enough?” he asked. “He is claiming that we made poor those who aren’t working. ‘You didn’t let us not work, those who are supported by us you impoverished,’ he is saying, and this is sad. It’s good for them that they have a captive audience dependent on them.
“If you are working then you are less dependent on welfare and allotments, you’re involved in your work and not thinking about when you’ll get your next government allotment and how much will it be.”
The amendment to the law for haredi conscription was set to be approved by the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee on Thursday night. It will come before the Knesset plenum for its final readings and approval on Monday.