ISRAEL AT WAR - DAY 141

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Ultra-Orthodox minister: Haredim not engaged in full-time Torah study should be drafted

Sam Sokol is the Times of Israel's political correspondent. He was previously a reporter for the Jerusalem Post, Jewish Telegraphic Agency and Haaretz. He is the author of "Putin’s Hybrid War and the Jews"

Welfare Minister Ya'akov Margi at a Federation of Local Authorities conference in Tel Aviv, December 8, 2022. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)
Welfare Minister Ya'akov Margi at a Federation of Local Authorities conference in Tel Aviv, December 8, 2022. (Tomer Neuberg/Flash90)

While full-time yeshiva students should not be required to perform military service, members of the Haredi community not engaged in full-time Torah study should be drafted, Welfare Minister Ya’akov Margi of the ultra-Orthodox Shas party declares.

In an interview with the Kikar Hashabbat website, Margi calls for the establishment of a “dedicated department in the Defense Ministry to recruit those people who do not study Torah.”

“The army needs to want to recruit them and know how to recruit them,” he clarifies.

“I can’t convince any mother whose son is on the front, who hasn’t been sleeping day and night for several months… why [an] ultra-Orthodox boy doesn’t enlist,” he continues, adding that he believes that those who are not enrolled in yeshiva can even be enlisted “by force.”

By continuing to push for widespread exemptions without making any concessions “we are endangering the Torah world,” he concludes.

Margi’s comments come amid a widespread backlash against an IDF plan to increase the amount of time conscripts and reservists serve in the military. Lawmakers from both the opposition and coalition have said the increased military service burden should fall on the Haredi community rather than being added on to those already serving.

Military officials have touted an increase in ultra-Orthodox volunteering for duty in the immediate aftermath of the October 7 massacre, though the numbers have been relatively small and there has not been a major shift in most ultra-Orthodox leaders’ or institutions’ approach to rejecting military service.

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