'Camp Sucker' to protest for universal IDF service

Movement gearing up for protest hopes to bring thousands to TA streets to demand equality in shouldering national burden.

By
July 5, 2012 19:47
3 minute read.
Activists protest Tal Law in Tel Aviv

Protest against Tal Law 390. (photo credit: Ben Hartman)

 
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Nearly six months after they first set up a faux military base at Tel Aviv’s Arlozorov train station in a call for universal service for all Israelis, the “Camp Sucker” movement is gearing up for a mass protest on Saturday night to demand equality in the shouldering of the national burden.

The protest, which will be held at 8:30 p.m. at the Tel Aviv Museum plaza, is being headlined “Order 8 – We will stop being suckers!!” in a reference to the “Tzav 8” letters that arrive at homes to inform of upcoming reserve service.

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Organizers said on their Facebook page that “we are citizens who live here, work, pay taxes, serve in the army and national service, contribute to the state, feel like we are a part of the state... we are calling for mandatory service for everyone from age 18, without discrimination or dirty tricks. Service for everyone!!”

At least a dozen different organizations are taking part in the protest, including the National Union of Israeli Students and several groups devoted to religious freedom and helping reservists and discharged soldiers. They will also be joined by the right-of-center extra-parliamentary group “Im Tirtzu.”

Boaz Nol, the 34-year-old Tel Avivian who has been at the forefront of the movement, said Saturday’s protest will send the message that “all of us must serve, that [Vice Premier Shaul] Mofaz and [Prime Minister Binyamin] Netanyahu must do what they have promised and what all the people [of Israel] have demanded.”

Nol said that Netanyahu’s decision on Monday to dissolve the Keshev Committee, which was tasked with finding ways to draft the ultra-Orthodox and Israeli Arabs into the army or national service, proves that “although he vowed that he and Mofaz would bring change, he has chosen to betray the majority of the Israeli public who pays taxes and serves in the army for the sake of the haredim.”

Former Kadima leader Tzipi Livni and Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid are expected to attend the rally, but no politicians will be allowed to address the crowd.

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MK Yoel Hasson (Kadima) on Thursday said he would take part in the protest Saturday night, and called on Netanyahu to stand behind his words and work to ensure universal service.

Hasson also called on all of Kadima’s 28 MKs to come and show their support at the rally.

Maryland native and haredi Rabbi Dov Lipman, who made aliya with his family in 2004, will be among the speakers at Saturday night’s rally, which he said will be an opportunity to voice his feeling that army or national service is in keeping with Jewish tradition and not an affront to “Torah values.”

“My message is going to be that the demand that everyone contribute and serve the country is what Torah and Jewish tradition demands and any attempt to say that Torah is against that is a corruption of the Torah,” he said.

Lipman, who was involved in leading protests last year supporting a national-religious girls’ school in Beit Shemesh that was opposed by local haredi residents of the city, said he has received criticism from people saying he is “going against the Torah sages” and others who say the protests in favor of universal service are anti-religious.

Saturday night’s protest will be the first major protest on the issue in Tel Aviv in recent memory, a fact whose significance is not lost on Lipman.

“I think it’s hitting at exactly the right moment. All the political leaders are doing their soul searching and the I think that if people do come out and make a statement that there is a huge percentage of the country that’s demanding action over here, I think it has the potential to have a major impact.”

Also on Saturday night, social justice protesters plan to hold a march at 7 p.m.

from the Interior Ministry on Kaplan Boulevard to the Habimah Theater on Rothschild Boulevard. Organizers said the protest will be nonpartisan and called on participants to arrive wearing white T-shirts, on which they can spray paint their own personal slogans.

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