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Draft Dodgin’, Blood for Oil, Moshe Mouse

Coalition Crisis Deepens Over Haredi Draft Law

Jeremy Sharon & Lahav Harkov, Jerusalem Post, March 1st 2018


Ultra-Orthodox political parties Shas and United Torah Judaism (UTJ) refuse to vote for the 2019 state budget until the Knesset agrees to pass legislation that restores military exemptions for full-time yeshiva students. If a budget does not pass, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition will collapse, triggering early elections.

The Context:

  • Israelis are obligated to serve 32 months of military service [1] followed by ongoing reserve duty.

  • Military exemptions for yeshiva students go back to the state’s founding but only applied to a few hundred people. In 2002, the Knesset passed a law encouraging yeshiva students to enlist in either military or alternative civilian national service by offering a reduced 16-month term. Last year, the Supreme Court struck down exemptions and leniencies for full-time yeshiva students altogether [2].

  • UTJ and Shas insist that support for the enlistment-exemption law is a component of their coalition agreements and party leaders threatened to leave the coalition and “go with whoever gives the most in matters that concern us – the draft issue [3].”

  • A senior coalition member explained that “there are 100 proposals on the table,” however none seem likely to be pass muster. Coalition partner Yisrael Beytenu threatened to quit the government if Netanyahu's Likud party votes to restore military exemptions for Haredim.

  • 79% of the Jewish public opposes military exceptions for yeshiva students [4].

Conversation Points:

  • Is a coalition-style government effective?

  • If Haredim do not serve in the army, should they be entitled to state benefits?

  • Should the Jewish state be lenient when it comes to state-sponsored torah study?

Argentina Ex-Leader Kirchner to be Tried Over AMIA Bombing Cover-up

Times of Israel, March 6th 2018


Former Argentinian President Cristina Fernandez de Kirchner will face trial for covering up the Iranian role in a 1994 terrorist bombing at a Jewish center in Argentina.

The Context:

  • The 1994 bombing of the Argentine Israelite Mutual Association (AMIA) center in Buenos Aires killed 85 people and wounded hundreds. Kirchner, who was president from 2007-2015, denies any wrongdoing or involvement in a cover-up.

  • Prosecutor Alberto Nisman charged that a 2013 agreement, which Kirchner’s government made with Iran in exchange for favorable deals on oil, ensured that Iranian officials involved in the attack would escape prosecution. Nisman was found murdered in his apartment the night before he was set to testify. The AMIA investigation has yet to produce a single conviction [5], and Iran denies any involvement in the bombing [6].

  • Leaders of Argentina's Jewish community, Latin America’s largest, forcefully criticized the Argentinian-Iranian accord and an Argentine court later declared the agreement unconstitutional [7].

Conversation Points:

  • What can be said of Argentina’s separation of powers if progress is only now being made in the AMIA cover-up case?

  • Why do Western countries still engage the Iranian government if it is bent on destabilizing nations, even outside its immediate sphere of influence?

  • What will happen to the Iranian-Argentinian relationship if the trials produce convictions for Iranian officials?

Developers Plan Jewish Theme Park in Desert Town of Dimona

Jessica Steinberg, Times of Israel, March 6th 2018


Plans are in place to build a theme park in Dimona, a southern town in the Negev desert. The park's designer is the same as Disney’s Magic Kingdom [8].

The Context:

  • Pla’im Park (Park of Wonders) will feature 16 major attractions including a Splash Mountain style ride traversing the days of the week (culminating with Shabbat, of course) and a roller coaster passing through gigantic volumes of books. The park will consist of five worlds - Oasis, World of Spirits, World of the Jewish Nation, World of Society and the World of Time [9].

  • Private donors already invested $1.5 million to date, and Pla’im Park CEO Lea Malul believes it is an essential venture since it is "time for [Israel] to be good at something fun [10].”

Conversation Points:

  • Will Dimona’s alleged nuclear facility deter tourists from patronizing Pla’im Park?

  • Can a Jewish theme park draw tourists to the Negev?


  1. All Israeli Men Should Be Drafted at 18 – Including the ultra-Orthodox, Nehemia Shtrasler, Haaretz, March 6th 2018

  2. Netanyahu, haredi MKs weigh proposal to end coalition crisis, David Rosenberg, Israel National News, March 1st 2018

  3. Ibid.

  4. FOUR OUT OF FIVE ISRAELI JEWS WANT HAREDIM TO SERVE IN ARMY, Jeremy Sharon, Jerusalem Post, March 6th 2018

  5. Former Argentine President Cristina Kirchner Facing Potential Trials Over Both Iranian AMIA Bombing Cover-Up and Murder of Investigator Alberto Nisman, The Algemeiner, March 6th 2018

  6. Argentina ex-leader to face trial over alleged bombing cover-up, Al Jazeera, March 6th 2018

  7. Former Argentine president to stand trial for AMIA cover-up, Elad Benari, Israel National News, March 6th 2018


  9. Ibid.

  10. Ibid.

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