Thursday, January 02, 2014

Massive IDF Conscription Law Protest Set for New York 

A group of ultra-Orthodox Jews organized a protest to over new laws that require religious Israelis to enlist in the IDF. The protest was held on Tuesday, December 24, in front of the Israeli consulate in Manhattan.

Although the numbers amounted to a few dozen, this demonstration preempts what is set to be the next phase:

According to the Jerusalem Post, Hasidic leaders in Israel are preparing for a high profile, mass exodus to the United States to further protest and to, “galvanize support and generate solidarity among haredi Jews against legislation, currently in the Knesset, to draft ultra-Orthodox men into military and civilian service.”

“The grand rabbis, or admorim, of the largest Hasidic dynasties in Israel are 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, Viznitz, Sanz, Sadigura and Boyan hassidic courts,” the JP reports.

Three MKs from the Agudat Yisrael political party, the Hasidic half of United Torah Judaism Knesset faction, including Ya’akov Litzman, Meir Porush and Yisrael Eichler, are also expected to take part in the trip, in addition to the grand rabbis, or admorim.

The mission is being viewed as historic as it will culminate in a massive rally will be held while these religious leaders are in the US. Organizers told the JP that they expect between 50,000 to 60,000 to attend the rally, primarily from the local Hasidic community.

And while an official date has not been established yet for the demonstration, the JP reports that the mission from Israel is expected to make the journey in the next two weeks. This is being done so as the planning is in conjunction with the Agudat Yisrael movement in the US. The demonstration is planned to take place in New York City.

A steering committee for the event has already flown out to the US, the JP reports. They are reportedly looking for a location where a demonstration of such a large size can be held. The JP mentioned such possibilities as a sports stadium, although nothing has been booked successfully yet. Furthermore, in a worst case scenario, the JP reports that “the possibility of hiring a gigantic tent with a capacity for 50,000 people is also being examined.”

As well as organizing the preparations, the committee has also been raising money, from donors in the US, to fund the event – that will cost several million dollars.

The JP added that leading rabbis from the non-Hasidic haredi community in the US are “expected to take part in the rally.”

The goal of the demonstration is to “enlist the Jewish community of the United States to generate diplomatic pressure,” and to gain the support of young people who could get caught up in the draft.

“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,” the JP reports.


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