Israel: Memorial Day highlights ultra-Orthodox views on draft

i24NEWS

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An ultra-Orthodox Jewish soldier in Israel's military guards a base near the West Bank on September 15, 2009.
Abir Sultan/Flash90An ultra-Orthodox Jewish soldier in Israel's military guards a base near the West Bank on September 15, 2009.

Bnei Brak residents say those who walk during memorial siren 'don’t represent the city'

Memorial Day, a commemoration which honors Israel’s fallen, also highlights the complicated relationship between ultra-Orthodox Jewish communities and the country’s security establishment.

Israel has a policy of mandatory military conscription, but the majority of ultra-Orthodox Jews in the state seek religious exemption and do not serve in the army.

“The majority only believe that studying Torah protects the state of Israel, protects the Jewish people,” Yanki Farber, an ultra-Orthodox journalist and resident of the mostly ultra-Orthodox city Bnei Brak, told i24NEWS.

“So they don’t really join the Israeli army, but they do other things to… help their government by joining so many organizations of the people,” he added.

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Every year, footage emerges of ultra-Orthodox Jews who continue to walk during Israel’s memorial siren - a moment where Israelis are traditionally supposed to cease moving and stand in silence to honor the fallen.

However, locals in Bnei Brak say that these instances are not reflective of the entire ultra-Orthodox community.

“People will not walk on the street when the siren goes on… Maybe one or two [people] will, but they don’t represent the city,” Farber said.

Ya’akov, another Bnei Brak resident, also expressed his gratitude towards Israel’s security forces for their efforts to protect the city after a shooting attack back in March.

“We have great appreciation for the security forces who acted so quickly in the terror attack which took place here,” he told i24NEWS.

“May there be many more such people.”

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