Haredi students at NY school protest Israel’s draft law

Comparing the Israeli government to Hitler and Pharaoh, teachers explain to pupils Zionism is not Judaism

Ultra-Orthodox soldiers at their initiation ceremony, May 2013. (photo credit: Shevy Kass)
Ultra-Orthodox soldiers at their initiation ceremony, May 2013. (photo credit: Shevy Kass)

JTA — Carrying signs comparing the Israeli government to Pharaoh and Adolf Hitler, students at a suburban New York haredi Orthodox school demonstrated against an Israeli bill aiming to draft haredi men into the army.

The elementary and middle school students at the United Talmudical Academy in Spring Valley, about 30 miles from New York City, listened to their rabbis speak against the measure outside their school on Wednesday, according to the Mid-Hudson News. Along with Hitler and Pharaoh, the signs they carried also compared the Israeli government to the Roman military commander Titus, who conquered Jerusalem in the Second Temple era.

“In Israel, they have a government that is against religious freedom, and because of that we want to explain to the children that it is against our religion and we are not with” Israel, said ninth-grade teacher Rabbi Moshe Kaplan, according to Mid-Hudson News. “There is separate Zionism and Judaism. They are not the same thing. We are Jewish and they are not Jewish.”

The school, which famously banned bikes last year for giving children too much freedom, was also recently embroiled in a housing subsidies scandal.

Large protests against the proposed law have taken place in New York and Jerusalem. The proposed law passed Israel’s Cabinet on Sunday.

— Times of Israel staff contributed to the report

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