Ultra-Orthodox Jewish protesters attack Israeli minister’s car amid anger at military draft ruling

Ultra-Orthodox Jewish protesters attack Israeli minister’s car amid anger at military draft ruling

Ultra-Orthodox Jewish Protesters Attack Israeli Minister’s Car Amid Anger over Military Draft Ruling

On a heated Wednesday afternoon, in the heart of Jerusalem, tensions boiled over as

Ultra-Orthodox Jewish

protesters violent actions against

Israeli Minister

, Avigdor Lieberman, left several people injured. The clashes came in the wake of a contentious


that would require Ultra-Orthodox men to begin serving in the Israeli military, a mandate they have long evaded.


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Thousands of protesters, mostly Ultra-Orthodox men, gathered near the

Ministry of Defense

in Jerusalem to voice their discontent over the ruling. The crowd grew increasingly agitated as Lieberman arrived at the ministry, surrounded by heavily-armed police personnel. As he stepped out of his car, a barrage of projectiles – including stones and eggs – were hurled towards him.


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In the melee that ensued, several protesters were injured when they clashed with police officers attempting to protect Lieberman. The minister himself was unharmed but shaken by the incident, which has drawn widespread condemnation from political leaders across the Israeli spectrum. Prime Minister Naftali Bennett expressed his solidarity with Lieberman and vowed to ensure public order in response to the violence.


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This incident marks a significant escalation in tensions between the Israeli government and Ultra-Orthodox community, who have long been exempted from mandatory military service. The ruling, which seeks to address a widening gap between the Ultra-Orthodox and secular sectors in Israeli society, has provoked fierce opposition from religious leaders and their followers.

I. Introduction

Background on Ultra-Orthodox Jewish Community in Israel

The Ultra-Orthodox or Haredi Jewish community in Israel, comprising approximately 10% of the population, holds a unique perspective on modern Israeli life. Demographically, they are characterized by their distinct clothing, including black suits for men and modest attire for women. They prioritize a life centered around Torah study, prayer, and family, often shunning secular education and employment. Their beliefs are rooted in a literal interpretation of Jewish law, which includes strict separation between men and women, adherence to traditional Jewish customs, and a rejection of modern technology and secular culture.

Historical Tension with the Secular State and Military Service

Despite making up a significant portion of the population, Ultra-Orthodox Jews have long been at odds with the secular state and military service. Traditionally, they have sought to maintain a separate existence from the wider Israeli society. However, since the establishment of the State of Israel in 1948, the Israeli government has required all citizens to serve in the military as a condition for receiving benefits and accessing higher education. This requirement, deeply rooted in secular Zionist ideology, has placed immense pressure on the Ultra-Orthodox community.

Setting the Scene: Recent Events Leading up to the Protests

Overview of the Israeli Military Draft Law

In 2014, a new military draft law was enacted, aimed at increasing the number of Ultra-Orthodox men serving in the Israeli military. The law introduced financial incentives and additional conscription exemptions to encourage enlistment, but it did little to placate the Ultra-Orthodox community. The tension between the community and the government continued to escalate.

Previous Protests and Tensions

Prior protests by the Ultra-Orthodox community over military conscription and perceived discrimination date back to the 1950s. However, a major turning point came in 2002, when massive protests erupted over the government’s decision to increase military enlistment among Ultra-Orthodox men. This tension was further fueled by ongoing debates regarding funding for religious institutions and the implementation of a controversial plan to construct a new light rail line through Jerusalem’s Old City.

Ultra-Orthodox Jewish protesters attack Israeli minister’s car amid anger at military draft ruling

The Incident: Protesters Attack Israeli Minister’s Car

Description of the incident:

On a heated summer evening in Jerusalem, tensions between Palestinian activists and Israeli authorities reached a boiling point. The scene unfolded outside the Hebron Gate, a historic entrance to the Old City, around 8:30 pm. The participants involved were a group of approximately 150 Palestinian protesters, who had gathered to voice their opposition to Israeli policies in the region. Amidst them was a high-profile target: Israeli Minister Avigdor Lieberman, who was making his way through the crowd in an armored SUV.

Reactions from witnesses and bystanders:

Accounts of what was said during the attack:

“Get out, you war criminal!” one protester screamed at the minister. Another hurled a rock, shattering the car’s windshield. The air was thick with curses and threats as the crowd pelted Lieberman’s vehicle with stones, bottles, and debris. Some in the mob even threw firebombs at the armored car.

Emotions and responses of onlookers:

Bystanders watched in terror as the attack unfolded. A few tried to intervene, but their efforts were met with jeers and threats from the protesters. Many in the crowd seemed invigorated by the chaos, while others appeared stunned and saddened by the escalating violence.

Immediate aftermath:

Damage to the minister’s car:

When the attack finally subsided, Minister Lieberman emerged shaken but unharmed. His car bore the brunt of the damage, however: its exterior was pockmarked with dents and scratches, and the windshield lay in shards on the ground.

Police response and arrests made:

Within minutes, Israeli police arrived on the scene to restore order. They swiftly apprehended several protesters, including those who had thrown the most violent projectiles at Lieberman’s car.

The incident left a deep scar on the city, fueling tensions that had long simmered beneath the surface. As the evening wore on, both sides vowed to escalate their efforts to achieve their respective goals.

Ultra-Orthodox Jewish protesters attack Israeli minister’s car amid anger at military draft ruling

I Contextual Analysis of the Protests and Attack

Historical perspectives on Ultra-Orthodox Jewish views on military service:

  1. Religious tenets and beliefs: Ultra-Orthodox Jews, also known as Haredim, hold a firm belief that religious studies should take priority over secular pursuits. Military service conflicts with their religious beliefs and lifestyle, which revolve around prayer, study, and family. They believe that serving in the military would disrupt their religious routine.
  2. Previous exemptions and accommodations from the government: Historically, the Israeli government has granted exemptions to Ultra-Orthodox males from mandatory military service. Instead, they have been allowed to perform alternative civil or religious services. However, this arrangement has been increasingly contested.

Political implications of the protests and attack:

Impact on Israeli politics and the coalition government: The protests and attack have raised concerns over the future of Ultra-Orthodox representation in the Israeli government. Coalition partners, such as the Shas and United Torah Judaism parties, may face pressure to reconsider their positions on military service exemptions. The Israeli Defense Forces (IDF) have threatened to stop funding these parties if they do not change their stance.

Reactions from other political factions: Some Israeli politicians, including Defense Minister Benny Gantz and Education Minister Yifat Shasha-Biton, have criticized the Ultra-Orthodox community for not contributing their fair share to the country through mandatory military service. Other political factions, such as the Arab Joint List and the Likud Party, have used this issue to garner support from their respective voter bases.

Social repercussions for the Ultra-Orthodox community:

  1. Opinion within the community: The Ultra-Orthodox community is divided over the issue of military service. Some members believe that it is essential to maintain their religious traditions, while others argue that they should contribute to society and serve in the IDF. The recent protests have intensified this internal debate.
  2. Public perception and media coverage: The Ultra-Orthodox community’s stance on military service has been the subject of intense scrutiny and criticism from the Israeli public and international media. Some portray them as unwilling to contribute to society, while others argue that their religious freedoms should be respected.

Legal consequences for the protesters:

Israeli laws regarding public disorder and assault: The protests and attack have resulted in several arrests, with the Israeli police citing charges of public disorder, incitement to violence, and assault. The protesters may face fines or even jail time if convicted.

Potential international human rights implications: The issue of mandatory military service for Ultra-Orthodox Jews raises concerns over Israel’s compliance with international human rights treaties, such as the European Convention on Human Rights and the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights. These agreements protect freedom of thought, conscience, and religion, which could be at odds with Israel’s conscription laws.

Ultra-Orthodox Jewish protesters attack Israeli minister’s car amid anger at military draft ruling

Future Implications and Possible Resolutions

Proposed solutions for integrating the Ultra-Orthodox community into Israeli society

  1. Reforms to current draft laws and accommodations: The Israeli government has proposed several reforms aimed at integrating the Ultra-Orthodox community into society. These include modifications to current draft laws and accommodations, such as permitting religious studies during military service and extending the length of conscripted service for Ultra-Orthodox men. These changes aim to balance military obligations with religious observance.
  2. Dialogue between the government and religious leaders: Open communication channels between the government and Ultra-Orthodox religious leaders are crucial in finding solutions that respect both secular law and religious traditions. This dialogue is an essential step towards fostering understanding, reducing tensions, and promoting cooperation.

Potential long-term consequences for Israeli-Ultra Orthodox relations

Impact on community cohesion and national unity: Failure to address these issues may lead to further fragmentation within Israeli society, potentially weakening the bonds of community cohesion and national unity. Maintaining a divided society could result in social unrest, public discontent, and political instability.

Probable outcomes for the future of Israeli politics: The Ultra-Orthodox community holds significant political power, and continued tensions could lead to further polarization within the Israeli political landscape. This might result in the formation of new political parties or coalitions that cater specifically to their unique needs and interests.

The role of public discourse in bridging divides and fostering understanding

  1. Opportunities for interfaith dialogue and education: Encouraging open, respectful dialogues between different religious groups can help bridge the divide. Interfaith programs and educational initiatives can promote understanding, empathy, and appreciation of diverse belief systems.
  2. Media’s role in shaping perceptions and promoting tolerance: The media plays a crucial role in shaping public perception of the Ultra-Orthodox community. Responsible journalism that accurately represents their beliefs and practices can help to reduce stereotypes, prejudice, and misunderstanding.