Ultra-Orthodox reactions to a High Court of Justice ruling overturning the Tal Law, which exempts tens of thousands of yeshiva students from military service, ranged yesterday from utter indifference to prophecies of Armageddon.
The High Court ruled on Tuesday that the law, which allows full-time yeshiva students to defer army service, is unconstitutional, and the Knesset will not be able to renew it in its present form when it expires in August. The law went into effect 10 years ago.
Students at Jerusalem’s Hebron Yeshiva, where more than 1,000 men of draft age (18 to 24) are enrolled, seemed unfazed by the ruling, as did students at other yeshivas. At Hebron, some students did not even know of the High Court’s ruling until told by this reporter; others didn’t know exactly what the Tal Law was.
On being informed, some said they rely on God, along with their ultra-Orthodox Knesset members, to concoct a new law to replace the old one.
More importantly, however, they were confident that the state is neither willing nor able to draft masses of Haredi men into the Israel Defense Forces. It would certainly not throw ultra-Orthodox draft-dodgers into prison, said one: “The state would collapse in that situation.”