In Israel now even the pious must serve

The High Court deemed unconstitutional a law that allowed the ultra-orthodox to avoid conscription

Even the pious must serve

Baz Ratner /Reuters

A grudge most Israeli soldiers carry may soon dissolve, as Israel’s High Court has deemed the infamous “Tal Law” unconstitutional. The law, which permits full-time religious students to defer national military service, went into effect 10 years ago. It will expire in August.

Secular and modern Orthodox citizens are for the most part happy with the court ruling, which comes at a time of rising tensions over the role of the ultra-Orthodox in Israel. Many Israelis wondered where the justice lay in conscripting some and giving others a free pass. The ultra-Orthodox, however, are less than pleased. Not only would they have to drop their books to make war, they would also be forced to serve with female soldiers—a mixing of the sexes that ultra-Orthodox Judaism does not allow. Some religious students say the government could help appease their concerns by creating a separate regiment for ultra-Orthodox Jews. But another told the Israeli daily Haaretz he would rather die than join the Israel Defense Forces. “The entire Haredi ideology is built on that,” he said.

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