Indictment of ultra-orthodox Jew shows threat to Israel's military conscription

(Photo: © Peter Kenny)Orthodox Jews worship at Jerusalem's Western Wall on Feb. 11, 2016.

An extremist man from a group of anti-secular Jews known as haredi has been indicted by an Israeli court for attempting to attack the head of the Israel Defense Force Manpower Directorate, and for issuing threats against him.

His case at the Nazareth Magistrate's Court highlights a conundrum for Israeli authorities trying to enforce the country's conscription laws.

The indictment sheet says 40-year-old Moshe Iraam, a Jerusalem resident, traveled on May 5 to Moshav Kfar Tavor in the Lower Galilee. There he accosted Maj.-Gen. Moti Almoz outside a synagogue after the Friday night prayer service, The Jerusalem Post reports.

Iraam is part of a group of ultra-Orthodox Jews who reject the concept of military conscription imposed on all Israelis.

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On June 12 in New York close to 20,000 Orthodox demonstrators gathered at the Barclays Center in Brooklyn to protest against the Israeli law that mandates Orthodox conscription into the IDF, describing it as "Israel's persecution of religious Jews."

Rabbi David Niederman, a liaison for the Central Rabbinical Congress, one of the groups involved in the event, told The Jerusalem Post he views Orthodox military conscription as a violation of religious freedom.

HAREDI AGGRESSION

Haredi extremists have conducted a fierce campaign of incitement and aggression towards haredi men enlisting in the IDF and those who recruit them over the last four years, a campaign which has increased in intensity in recent months, VosIzNeias reported.

"Since 1948, when the government was founded, they understood that there is such a thing as [yeshiva] students who are studying, and they are exempt of military services," said Rabbi Niederman.

"But for the past few years, [Israeli politicians] have been trying to tighten the screw and are basically forcefully recruiting and forcefully bringing them in for military service, to which they object.

"Unprecedented things happened: There are people who protest those conditions, people who are upset that [Israel] violates their right to their religious adherence."

Haredi extremists compared senior IDF officer General Almoz to Nazi dictator Adolf Hitler.

After some of the protests and Israeli State Attorney banned haredi protests outside IDF officers' homes.

Iraam spat at Almoz, and hurled abuse at him based on Iraam's opposition to drafting haredi men into the IDF.

He also accused Almoz of "torturing," because of IDF regulations allowing for women soldiers to be put in military prison.

Amongst other insults, Iraam told Almoz that "there is justice and there is a judge."

Iraam, together with another individual, stayed in Kfar Tavor for three days to harass the Israeli general close to the synagogue where he prays, and threatened violence against him.

Later in May, several dozen haredi extremists descended on Almoz's private residence and protested against the enlistment of haredi men, although the indictment did not mention Iraam in connection with these events.

The protestors distributed flyers that read: "Moti Almoz, head of the Manpower Directorate, who sells his soul for money: How long will you burn the souls of the sons and daughters of Israel in the crematorium of Auschwitz – the army of destruction. Know that there is justice and there is a judge.

"Your end will be bitter, like Hitler's and his friends,'" they said.

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