Statement of Agudath Israel of America

We are deeply dismayed by the Knesset’s vote approving the compulsory conscription of chareidim into military or national service.

While the proposed new legislation will not become law unless it passes second and third readings in the Knesset, the preliminary approval of the measure portends an ominous eventual outcome.

The proposed new law is unprecedented. It would undo a policy that has been in place for the 65 years of Israel’s existence, under which yeshivah students have been exempt from the military draft. This policy reflected a broad consensus that Torah scholars are indispensable to the wellbeing of Israel and the survival of the Jewish People as a Jewish People.

If the proposed new law is enacted, the inevitable outcome will be that many thousands of budding Torah scholars will be torn from the halls of Jewish learning, and forcibly exposed to a secular culture that is totally foreign to their most basic values.

The Knesset has embarked on a path that leads in dangerous directions. We decry this action, and urgently implore Israel’s lawmakers to turn back before it is too late.