Menu
Home

World

Israeli lawmakers pass law meant to draft ultra-Orthodox Jews into military

Israeli Draft Protest-1.jpg

Rabbis speaks to one another as they joined other Orthodox Jews in New York, Sunday, March 9, 2014, on Water Street in lower Manhattan, to pray and protest against the Israeli government's proposal to pass a law that would draft strictly religious citizens into its army. (AP Photo/Craig Ruttle)The Associated Press

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.