SHAFAQNA – Over 3000 Orthodox Jews from communities throughout the tri-state area gathered at the Sheraton in Mahway, New Jersey this Thursday, August 11, 2016 for a conference organized by the Rabbinical Alliance of the United States and Canada. The evening’s agenda was to resist the Israeli government’s policy of forcibly drafting Orthodox Jews.
About a dozen Orthodox Jewish men are currently serving time in Israeli prisons and are being brutalized for their religious principled refusal to enlist in the Israeli Defense Force. The Israeli police break into people’s houses in the middle of the night, drag them out and throw them into prisons for months and even years.
On the stage at last night’s conference sat over 25 distinguished leading rabbis, several of whom addressed the assembly. “For years the so-called “Israeli” government attempted by all means to change the view and values of real true Judaism,” said Rabbi Aaron Jacobowitz, one of the speakers. “They robbed and plundered our name and identity. But it was largely ineffective – we have, thank G-d, large communities there that takes no part in the state.”
“The Israeli leaders cannot stand seeing, that after all, G-d fearing Jewish communities, following the steps of our sages, still exist and are not being influenced with their propaganda. So therefore they now turned to force conscription into their immoral army and to indoctrinate our youth. They don’t just insist that we accept their movement, but they attempt to force our people to actively take part in their wicked actions and by doing so, violate Judaism. Furthermore, they only need these recruits, Jewish boys dressed with yarmulkes, beards and side-locks, in order to bolster their claim that they represent all Jewry.”
“But our community refuses to participate in the illegitimate immoral Israeli army. We will never support it. We will not abandon our Torah values! We will not change our beliefs. We would rather go to jail than be part of it. – We have the right to be Conscientious Objectors.”
The Rabbi noted that the State of Israel’s jailing of young men who refuse to serve on religious grounds violates international law: “On April 22, 1998 the United Nations Commission on Human Rights, in resolution 1998/77, stated that “states should . . . refrain from subjecting conscientious objectors . . . to repeated punishment for failure to perform military service.”
“So we are here to say to the Israeli government: Stop the brutality! Stop the cruelty! Orthodox Jews in the Holy Land have the right to refuse to take part in your actions. Let our communities live in peace!”
The rabbi added, “We would take this opportunity to reiterate that one of the tenets of the Jewish faith is that since Jews have exiled from the Holy Land, we are not to aspire political nationalism. We are bound by Divine oath to accept the yoke of Diaspora and live in peace and harmony within the nations that Divine destiny has placed us in. Jews are forbidden to create a sovereign state of their own, to rebel against any nation, to shed any blood, or to wage wars against any nation. Therefore the greatest rabbinical authorities vehemently opposed the Zionist movement from the very beginning, and refused to recognize their State of Israel when it was created. We will never serve in the army of a state that we do not recognize.”
The speakers included three guests from the Holy Land, Rabbi Yaakov Davidowitz of Jerusalem, Rabbi Shmiel Noah Weinberg of Bnei Brak and Rabbi Yonah Eichler of Beis Shemesh, who described the difficult situation faced by the Orthodox living there. Rabbi Eichler’s dramatic portrayal brought tears to the eyes of many in the audience. Rabbi Moshe Zev Zorger, a distinguished leading rabbi of Jerusalem who could not attend in person, spoke via live telephone hookup.
In a side room of the conference hall, a press conference took place.
The conference, as well as a rally held on the same day in Montreal, Canada, was arranged to coincide with a rally held in Jerusalem by the Eidah Chareidis, the anti-Zionist rabbinate of the Holy Land. Both conferences closed with prayers and a few moments of sitting on the floor in a display of mourning.