Demonstrators set up Camp Sucker in J'lem

Former IDF chief of staff Ashkenazi arrives in display of support for movement seeking to end IDF exemptions for haredim.

Protest against Tal Law 390 (photo credit: Ben Hartman)
Protest against Tal Law 390
(photo credit: Ben Hartman)
Demonstrators set up a Camp Sucker ("Frier") in Jerusalem's Wohl Rose Park on Saturday in protest against IDF draft-exemptions given to the ultra-orthodox community.
Former IDF chief of staff Gabi Ashkenazi arrived at the park in support of the protest.
The law, approved in 2002, was designed to increase the number of ultra-Orthodox men serving in the army, but has been criticized for failing to bring the rate of haredi recruitment up toward the national average.
There are currently approximately 60,000 full-time yeshiva students who are of army service age but who have gained exemptions under the terms of the Tal Law.
The High Court of Justice in February ruled the Tal Law illegal, but the government has been holding meetings with heads of the ultra-orthodox community to discuss possible compromises for its replacement.
The Camp Sucker movement is led primarily by the Forum for Military Service Equality (Forum La’shivyon Ba’netel.)The group has led similar protests around the country in protest of what they view as discrimination against those who serve in the IDF.
At one such protest in January at Tel Aviv's Savidor (Arlozorov) Train Station, a spokesman for the Mitpakdim social reform organization said that “We’re the people who pay taxes, we’re going to the army and we’re not being listened to.” She added that: “We want everyone to have equal rights; everyone should work, everyone should contribute. If you want to get you have to give too,” said Rechess. It’s not logical that the people who don’t work, who don’t go to the army, get the most support from the government, not us, she continued.
Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin met on Thursday afternoon with leading haredi figure Rabbi Aharon Leib Shteinman to discuss a deal.
In an interview with the hassidic Hamevaser newspaper published just before Passover, Shteinman said, “We should be more concerned about the attempt to injure the status of those studying in yeshiva then the Iranian threat.”
Jeremy Sharon and Ben Hartman contributed to this report.