Leading Academics and Activists Call for Criminal Sanctions to Be Dropped From Draft Bill

Over the past week, a group of prominent Israelis in the academic world and former members of the security establishment issued a public plea to Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu and his coalition partners to drop the criminal sanctions clause from the new chareidi draft law. They did it not because they oppose the draft of chareidim, but because they believe the criminal sanctions will be detrimental to the ultimate goal, which they perceive as being to integrate the chareidim into wider Israeli society. Most of the signatories are secular and are presented in the media as being “experts on chareidi affairs.” Below is a free translation of their petition, and a list of the signatories.


We are a group of researchers, journalists, public figures and social activists who specialize and are involved in a wide range of subjects related to the chareidi sector, and we are concerned about the proposal to impose criminal sanctions in order to enforce military service for yeshivah students.

Even if this step seems just and equal at first glance, in actuality it will cause only damage. The chareidi public has begun slow steps of becoming integrated into military and civil service and in the job market. The state has an interest in encouraging them and speeding up this process to increase the equality and the contribution of the chareidim to the economy and security.

A law that is based on criminal sanctions will be interpreted by the public as a declaration of war on the Torah world and contempt of the state authorities for the value of learning Torah. It is reasonable that it will cause a halt to the integration of the chareidi population and will lead the state to a severe social rift. Arresting yeshivah students will not only not lead to their enlistment —there is a concern that it will lead to a civil uprising against enlistment, violent demonstrations and instructions from Rabbanim that will ban all enlistment.

In such a battle, there can be no winners, only losers. It will not achieve equal sharing of the burden but rather, will distance it. Therefore, the right legislative proposal will provide incentives for those who enlist, encourage enlistment and negate benefits from anyone who does not do so, and thus, will encourage service and integration of as many chareidim as possible.

We are calling on Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu, on the heads of Yesh Atid and Yisrael Beiteinu, and on all the members of Knesset to give up on the criminal sanctions initiative that will achieve the opposite of its intended goal and may end up as a long-term mistake.

General Ami Ayalon

Shachar Ilan

Professor Tamar Elor

Dov Elbaum

Dr. Iris Braun

Dr. Binyamin Braun

Dr. Sarit Barzilai

Avirama Golan

Professor Amiram Gonen

Dr. Reuven Gal

Dr. Neri Horowitz

Professor Aviad Hakohen

Dr. Lee Kahaner

Dr. Yaakov Lupo

Dr. Nissim Leone

Dr. Hadar Lipschutz

Dr. Gilad Malcah

Assaf Malchi

Dr. Michal Neubauer-Shani

Dr. Rivka Neriya Ben Shachar

Dr. Netanel Fischer

Dr. Anat Feldman

Professor Menachem Friedman

Rabbi Professor Naftali Rottenberg

Dr. Nurit Stadler

Professor Yedidya Stern

Yair Sheleg

Professor Yosef Shalhev

Dr. Ehud Spiegel

Aharon Shapiro

Mor Shapiro Shamgar

Nir Sarig

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