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
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
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
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.