Hiddush in the legal trenches

Legal fronts against religious discrimination

Hiddush has been active on several legal fronts against religious discrimination in the IDF, including the battle against exempting yeshivas students from conscription along with the rest of their Israeli peers.

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This is what Haaretz editorial today describes as "The original sin, which split the right-wing bloc; led to the dissolution of the Knesset on December 20, 2018; prevented Benjamin Netanyahu from forming a government in April 2019; and put the State of Israel in an election vortex, which it has not been able to extricate itself from for about two years, even now on the eve of the fourth election”.

On Tuesday, the State asked the Supreme Court that to extend the validity of the conscription law, which exempts yeshiva students from conscription into the IDF. The Court ordered that the Law expire on Tuesday since it was declared unconstitutional, and the IDF already began to prepare accordingly, and the Attorney General is asking again, after a number of postponements were granted in the past and the Court has made it clear that it expects that no more requests for postponement be submitted, so the current request is based on the fact that the Knesset has once again dissolved and new elections will be held in March, followed by a new coalition government to be formed.

“This is not surprising”, continues Haaretz editorial, “these are the same people who shut down the country; shut down the economy; closed schools in secular cities and hurt the livelihoods of hundreds of thousands of employees, including the self-employed and the small business owners - just because they did not want to impose a closure only upon “red” cities, which are mostly ultra-Orthodox. These are the people who pursue a policy of selective enforcement, and, in fact, exempt the ultra-Orthodox from obeying the law regarding the corona regulations; and legislate basic laws only to enable the provision of financial support to ultra-Orthodox institutions while circumventing the continuation of budget restrictions. It is only natural for them to ask the Supreme Court to wait and not address the explosive issue of conscripting yeshiva students, at least until after the election. God forbid their holy covenant with their ultra-Orthodox partners be sabotaged, without which they have no government.

If there is one lesson that we have learned in the last year is, it is that there is a need to heal the relationship between the state and the ultra-Orthodox public. The issue of conscription must be part of a new agreement, which should be hashed out between the parties. However, the continuation of the political horse trading, done in the dark and intended to strengthen the continuation of Netanyahu's rule, is the opposite of that. The upcoming elections will reflect this reality”. While the anticipated explosion over the issue of conscription is now being delayed again on account of the pending elections, it will certainly stir up trouble immediately after the results come in.

It is clear that preventing the eating and eating of food in IDF bases, whether kosher for Passover or not at all - is a violation of the freedom of choice, freedom of action and freedom of religion of non-observant Jews, whether they are Jews or if they are non-Jewish soldiers or civilians.

On another religious front regarding the IDF, in advance of Passover this year, Hiddush along with the Secular Forum wrote to the IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Aviv Kochavi, demanding that the IDF’s orders that have been in effect all these years be amended to allow chametz into IDF bases during Passover by non-observant soldiers and staff as well as non-Jews. The letter states that “it is clear that preventing the eating and eating of food in IDF bases, whether kosher for Passover or not at all - is a violation of the freedom of choice, freedom of action and freedom of religion of non-observant Jews, whether they are Jews or if they are non-Jewish soldiers or civilians. The letter states that, of course, Kosher for Passover food should be served in all IDF dining halls and should be strictly observed in its kitchens, but possessing and eating non-Kosher food outside the dining hall and kitchens does not interfere with the halachic Kashrut of the food consumed by observant soldiers in those dining halls or elsewhere on base.

Hiddush actively promotes the values of freedom of religion and equality in the IDF. We are proud of our ability to contribute to strengthening Israel's identity as a Jewish and democratic state, in which democracy is no less important than Judaism.

Beyond matters concerning the IDF, Hiddush continues to be very active on the front of marriage freedom in Israel. Following the storm over the legally performed and recognized civil weddings of Israeli couples conducted by video conference in the State of Utah, USA, Hiddush turned to the Minister of the Interior, Rabbi Aryeh Deri. In Hiddush’s warning letter, we demanded that the Minister immediately cancel his order to the Population Authority to hold up registering these marriages in the Population Registry, as required by law.

The State has not responded as yet to the pending petition on the Utah weddings, nor to Hiddush’s legal challenge, and thus we are gearing to go to Court as well. Still, in spite of the fact that the registration of these Utah weddings is suspended, Israeli couples are continuing to opt for this necessary [especially in times of pandemic] and convenient route. In fact, over 75 couples have already gotten married via the State of Utah’s online option, and the number keeps growing daily.



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