Israel passes law meant to draft ultra-Orthodox

March 12, 2014

JERUSALEM (AP) ā€” Israeli lawmakers have passed a contentious law meant to draft ultra-Orthodox Jews into the army.

The issue lies at the heart of a cultural war on the place of the ultra-Orthodox in Israeli society. The matter featured prominently in elections last year that led to the establishment of a center-right government, which has pushed for the draft reforms.

Wednesday’s vote passed 67-1 in the Knesset. The opposition boycotted the vote to protest what it says are strong-arm tactics by the ruling coalition. For years exempt from military service, the ultra-Orthodox insist their young men serve the nation through prayer and study, thus preserving Jewish learning and heritage. They say conscription threatens their community.

The exemptions have enraged secular Israelis who say the ultra-Orthodox are not doing their fair share.

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