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Israel's Other Religious War: The Ultra Orthodox Versus the IDF

Ultra-Orthodox adherents of Judaism have long been exempt from military service in Israel, but lately this exception has sparked outrage from the secular majority.
October 24, 2014, 8:00am

Since Israel's inception, the Haredi—ultra-Orthodox adherents of Judaism—have been exempt from the country's military conscription laws. But the community's growing population, coupled with their high unemployment rate and dependence on state benefits, has sparked outrage within the country's secular majority. After years of demanding that the Haredi share the responsibility of serving in the armed forces, the Israeli government passed an unprecedented law in March 2014 that requires Haredi men to serve in the military. The decision resulted in major opposition from the Ultra Orthodox community, from violent protests to religious leaders demanding that no one should comply.

VICE News traveled to Israel to speak with hardline members and leaders of the Ultra Orthodox community as well as soldiers in the Netzah Yehuda, the IDF's Ultra Orthodox battalion, to get their take on the government's decision.