- The Washington Times - Friday, May 17, 2013

Thousands of ultra-Orthodox Jews in Israel rallied against a new plan to force them to serve in the nation’s military — a law they say violates their religious beliefs.

Currently, ultra-Orthodox Jews are exempted from Israel’s draft, even while most others ages 18 and older — including females — are required to serve. Men have to serve three years; women, two. But ultra-Orthodox Jewish individuals have been allowed to avoid the service, in order to pursue religious studies, which span most of their lives.

Secular Israeli officials have long-protested the exemption, and now plans are underway to include the ultra-Orthodox under the nation’s conscription laws. Ultra-Orthodox Israelis aren’t happy, and an estimated 15,000, wearing traditional black coats and hats, rallied in Jerusalem in protest, surrounding a military recruitment office and chanting, “The Torah above everything,” BBC reported.

“The government wants to uproot [our traditions] and secularize us. They call it a melting pot, but people cannot be melted. You cannot change our [way of life],” Rabbi David Zycherman said, in the BBC report.

Several were arrested for throwing bottles, stones and at least one smoke grenade at police, BBC reported.

Police and protesters have been injured, BBC said.



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