SHAFAQNA – America’s Orthodox Jewish community staged a demonstration yesterday, Monday, July 11, in front of the Israeli Consulate in Manhattan, to protest against the State of Israel’s forced drafting of religious young men into their army. The demonstration was organized by Rabbinical Alliance of the United States andCanada.
More than 1000 people from various communities in New York and New Jersey attended, some coming from as far as two or three hours away. Over 100 leading prominent rabbis were seated on the platform. Many speeches were given, including two by rabbis from Jerusalem. The oldest participant was Chuna Stern, a Holocaust survivor over the age of 90, who came with great difficulty and had to be physically supported during the march. Numerous members of the press also attended.
One of the speakers, Rabbi Aron Jacobowitz explained the reasons for the Orthodox position: “Our community came to the Holy Land to study Torah, pray and absorb its sanctified atmosphere. They came to live peacefully alongside the residents of the land.
“Unfortunately, the Zionist movement came later, with a different purpose in mind. They came to take over the land and create a state, in violation of the Torah. Very quickly, they became involved in wars with the local non-Jewish population, and with other countries.
“At the beginning of the Zionist state in 1948, its leaders understood that they could not force the old religious community to participate in their army and their wars. After all, these people desired only to live in peace as they had previously, as their parents did before them.
“Decades went by, the Orthodox community grew, and then the Israeli leadership changed its tune. They could not stand to see a large community of old-fashioned Jews in their midst, Jews who kept to the ideals of Judaism, living quietly and peacefully, following the Torah, taking no interest in political power. They want the religious community to join them. And what better way to change the religious community, than to draft the young ones into the army and indoctrinate them.
“Let no one be fooled. The Israeli army does not need these boys. The same Israeli army recently turned away 50,000 qualified recruits. No, they don’t need the Orthodox – their only goal is to force them to abandon their beliefs.
“Furthermore, religious Jews refuse to enlist because they are opposed to the State of Israel. According to the Torah, Jews are forbidden to create of a state of their own, or to fight wars. We will never serve in the military of a state that we don’t recognize.”
After several speeches, the protestors marched from the consulate to the offices of Friends of IDF, where Rabbi Jacobowitz addressed the FIDF supporters, calling them “friends of the IDF but enemies of real Jews.”
“You are friends of the IDF, which puts the Jewish people in danger. We are friends of the Jews of the Holy Land, and we want their safety,” he declared.
“Because of the Zionists, Israel is now the most dangerous place in the world for a Jew to live. They built themselves an army. We have never recognized them, and they cannot force us to join them.”
The chairman concluded the rally by thanking the NYPD for ensuring our freedom of speech – unlike the Israeli police, who, he said, “harass Jews for protesting in the same peaceful manner as we did here today.”
Rabbinical Alliance of the United States and Canada is an umbrella organization uniting dozens of congregations with the goal of strengthening Judaism in Jewish communities around the world.