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Religious Israelis Demonstrate Against Conscription of Women

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A demonstration of religious Jews against the government bill calling for national non-military service for Orthodox women exempted from military service because of their religious convictions, was held here today. A similar demonstration is being organized in Jerusalem Wednesday, when the bill is scheduled to be introduced in Parliament.

A statement issued here last night by Ish Hazon, spiritual leader of the Orthodox Agudist groups in Israel, said that the introduction of national service for religious girls is prohibited in the name of the Torah. Under the national service bill, girls between 18 and 26 years of age claiming exemption from military service on religious grounds would have to do other forms of national service for a period of two years.

(In New York today, the presidium of the Agudath Israel of America sent cables to Israeli President Ben Zvi and Premier David Ben Gurion demanding that the bill for national service for religious women be withdrawn by the government. The cables warned that “flaunting the rabbinic authorities” in this matter will result in “serious worldwide repercussions affecting future relations of Jewry with Israel.”)

The Mizrachi Laborite Party, an Orthodox group, at a meeting last night, failed to take action on the government’s bill calling for national non-military service for Orthodox women excused from military service.

Three different positions were voiced at the conference: 1. Support of the government’s measure; 2. Opposition to the bill, and 3. Abstention on the bill when it comes up for a vote in Parliament. Those who favor abstention assert that when the party joined the government coalition it agreed to abstain on such a measure and cannot now vote against it. It is assumed that with this division within the party, its deputies in the Knesset will abstain.

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