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Haredi Holdup, The Jewish Nation-State, Moovin On

Netanyahu: Election Coming if Coalition Won’t Compromise on Haredi Draft

Lahav Harkov, Jerusalem Post, August 12th 2018


Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s coalition will start planning an early election if it cannot reach a compromise on the Haredi draft bill.

The Context:

  • The contentious legislation sets minimum yearly targets for Ultra-Orthodox conscription that, if not met, would result in financial sanctions on uncooperative yeshivot. Sanctions would increase each year targets are missed [1]. Ultra-Orthodox parties see such sanctions as an unacceptable punishment for studying Torah.

  • If the Knesset fails to pass a Haredi draft law by December 2nd, all yeshiva students currently receiving military deferrals would be obligated to enlist. The bill sets an initial goal of drafting 3,348 Haredim in 2018 and would increase the number of Haredi draftees by 8% each year through 2020 [2].

  • The bill will likely enjoy a large majority in the Knesset if Netanyahu agrees to bring the bill to a vote [3]. Deputy Health Minister and leader of United Torah Judaism Ya’acov Litzman said his party has “no interest in elections, but cannot compromise on a significant matter of principle.” The opposition continues to push for “dispersing the Knesset and going to elections [4].” Netanyahu’s coalition relies on Ultra-Orthodox parties for its majority.

  • Israeli law requires a 90-day election campaign period if a Knesset is disbanded early. If the government decides on elections in early September, the vote would be held in early December [5].

Conversation Points:

  • Why is Netanyahu staking his party’s majority rule on the Haredi draft bill?

  • Should the Jewish state exude more tolerance towards those seeking to learn torah full-time?

  • Why will the bill garner such support in the Knesset if brought to a vote?

  • Why are opposition parties so eager for early elections?

Palestinian Flags Fly in Tel Aviv as Arabs Protest Controversial Nation-State Law

JTA, August 13th 2018


Tens of thousands of Israeli Arabs, some waving Palestinian flags, gathered in Tel Aviv to protest Israel’s Nation-State bill. Netanyahu says the flags prove “why the Nation-State Law is a necessity [6].”

The Context:

  • Israel is one of the only Western-style democracies in the world that does not have a constitution. Instead, Israel’s Basic Laws serve as guiding principles for the state and legal system [7].

  • The newly adopted Nation-State bill declares “the right to exercise national self-determination” in Israel is “unique to the Jewish people”, establishes Hebrew as Israel’s official language, and downgrades Arabic to a language with “special status.” [8]

  • Supporters claim the bill does not undercut guarantees of equal status for all citizens, however many Israeli Arab’s and Druze feel betrayed by the law despite their loyalty to the state.

  • In a rare moment of unity, Netanyahu’s opponents joined him in criticizing this week’s demonstrators. Labor Chair Avi Gabbay disparaged protestors for “calling for the right of return,” and Yesh Atid leader Yair Lapid wondered aloud what would happen to protestors “marching in the center of Ramallah with Israeli flags.”

  • World Jewish Congress President Ronald Lauder criticized Israel’s current leadership for “sowing division” within the Jewish nation [9], citing a number of recent decisions by Israeli authorities, including the nation-state law, the passage of a surrogacy law that discriminates against the Israeli LGBT community, and the police interrogation of a non-Orthodox Rabbi in Haifa over his religious activities [10].

Conversation Points:

  • Does the Nation-State bill serve a practical purpose?

  • If Israel was established in 1948 as the bastion of Jewish self-determination, what is the harm in canonizing it today?

  • Must the Nation-State bill have a deleterious effect on Israel’s non-Jewish population?

  • How would the bill’s critics react if Israel lost its Jewish identity completely?

No Israeli Athletes Allowed, but Moovit App Chose for Asian Games in Indonesia

Shoshanna Saloman, Times of Israel, August 13th 2018


Israeli public transportation app Moovit has been chosen as the official mobility app for the Asiad games in Indonesia. Israel has been banned from participating since 1981.

The Context:

  • The Asiad, held every four years, is the second-largest multi-sport event after the Olympics, with teams from 44 countries participating and three million fans in attendance. Israel was allowed to compete in the Asiad from 1954 to 1974, but was banned by the Olympic Council of Asia in 1981. Palestine is on the roster.

  • Moovit’s free public transit app has more than 200 million users in over 2,500 cities. During the games Moovit will push transit updates and real-time service alerts.

  • Moovit’s app is fully localized in 44 languages, including Indonesian, Chinese, Japanese, Thai, Bahai Malay, Tagalog, Korean, Hindi, Russian, and Arabic [11].

Conversation Points:

  • Why aren’t equality advocates outraged when the only Jewish state is prohibited from participating in the Asiad? Would their response be similar if Palestine were prohibited from participating?


  1. Lapid implores Netanyahu: ‘Let’s pass enlistment law, you have our votes’, Times of Israel, August 13th, 2018

  2. Explained: Why Israel's Draft Bill Is Stirring Up Netanyahu's Government, Haaretz, August 13th, 2018

  3. Lapid implores Netanyahu: ‘Let’s pass enlistment law, you have our votes’, Times of Israel, August 13th, 2018

  4. PM Netanyahu to Chareidi Parties: Solve IDF Draft Law Within 2 Weeks or There Will Be Elections!, The Yeshiva World, August 12th, 2018

  5. Lapid implores Netanyahu: ‘Let’s pass enlistment law, you have our votes’, Times of Israel, August 13th, 2018


  7. Israel passes controversial 'nation-state' bill with no mention of equality or minority rights, Andrew Carey and Oren Liebermann, CNN, July 19th, 2018

  8. Israel’s hugely controversial “nation-state” law, explained, Vox, Jul 31st, 2018

  9. Prominent Jewish leader warns Israel of discriminatory laws, Orthodox dominance, i24, August 14th, 2018

  10. Ronald Lauder Warns Israel: Nation-state Law Will Harm Ties with World Jewry, Haaretz, Aug 14th, 2018

  11. Moovit Named Official Mobility App for Asian Games, Business Wire, August 12th, 2018

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