Dei'ah veDibur - Information & Insight

A Window into the Chareidi World

8 Teves 5761 - January 3, 2001 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly








Produced and housed by
Shema Yisrael Torah Network
Shema Yisrael Torah Network

Opinion & Comment
Torah World Tried to Honor Court Rulings; Court Tries to Uproot Torah World

After all the efforts of the Torah world for over two years to honor the orders of the High Court about providing a legal basis for the draft deferrals of yeshiva students, the wHigh Court has declared war on the Torah community by ordering the Israeli army to draft all yeshiva students as soon as possible.

Starting in December 1998, when the Court overturned the arrangement that had been in place since the founding of the State more than 50 years previously and supported by every government since, including the Ministers of Defense, the Torah community made its number one priority in the national political arena the passage of a law that would give a proper basis for draft deferral for serious yeshiva students, as the Court directed. Virtually every other goal at the national level that the chareidi community had was shunted aside, as would be expected given that the chareidi community sees this issue as one of overwhelming importance. Other goals were not given lower priority -- they were given zero priority. The entire political weight of United Torah Judaism (UTJ) has been focused exclusively on this one issue.

When Ehud Barak made the rounds to form his government about a year and a half ago, UTJ made the passage of what later became the Tal Law their only official demand. They neither asked for nor received control of any government ministries nor even any chairmanships of any Knesset committees. Given their size they were entitled to these. They also did not ask for money. They only asked that a proper committee be constituted to develop a law according to a timetable that would meet the requirements of the original order of the High Court to produce Knesset legislation within a year of the latter's original decision.

The response was delay and postponement on the part of the prime minister, who had to personally appoint the committee and pass the results. Barak did not meet the schedule that he committed himself to, and ultimately appointed the committee only after intensive arm twisting on the part of UTJ. After the Tal committee formulated its proposal, the legislation was allowed to languish in Knesset committees. The bill passed its first reading, but the Knesset Committee, whose chairman Salah Tarif is very much an ally of Barak, refused to return the bill to the Knesset for final passage.

Barak was willing to ask for another extension. The Court refused, saying that enough time was given for the Knesset to do its work.

Despite the importance the issue has for the chareidi community, the Court refused to allow four of the MKs of UTJ to participate in the Court proceedings as official respondents to the original Court decision, arguing that if they did not see fit to participate in the original case despite unofficial invitations to do so by the Court (which are a matter of public record) then there is no reason to hear them now.

In its decision, the Court expressed no sympathy or understanding for the position of the yeshivas, only for the difficulties of the army in implementing a call-up of chareidim. Yet the Court is well aware of the feelings that the issue arouses in the chareidi community, well aware that the Torah community has not been the source of the delays and fully aware of the unusual and difficult circumstances that the Knesset and the State of Israel are currently experiencing.

Nonetheless, the Court went ahead highhandedly with its decision which is nothing less than a clear attempt to undermine the very foundations of the chareidi community.

We must remember the immortal words of the Chanukah haftorah: Not with might and not with power, but with My spirit, said Hashem.

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