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Orthodox Leader Warns Law on Mobilization of Religious Women Will Be Disobeyed

March 7, 1951
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A warning that religious leaders in Israel will defy the proposed measure calling for the mobilization of Orthodox young women for compulsory service if the Mapai-sponsored bill is adopted was voiced here last night by Rabbi I.M. Levin, Cabinet member and leader of the Agudas Israel Organization.

Opening the debate on Premier David Ben Gurion’s proposed amendment to the draft law, Rabbi Levin said that he would be the “first to go to prison for disobeying the bill if it is accepted.” The measure provides that young women of military age who claim exemption from military duty on religious grounds must serve two years either in an agricultural settlement or at social welfare work in an immigration camp or elsewhere.

Rabbi Levin, the first of some 40 deputies who have registered-their intention of participating in the debate on the Premier’s amendment, called it “an act of revenge” on the part of the Premier against the Religious Bloc whose disaffection caused the fall of his Cabinet. He asserted that the security and manpower situation has not worsened since last year when this move was not considered necessary. He also pointed out that only three other states throughout the world have found it necessary to mobilize their women.

Itzhak Ben Aharon, Mapam leader, announced that his party will urge that the measure be sent to committee. There the left-wing Socialists hope to see the entire draft law rewritten to provide for full equality of men and women “in the state and for the state.”


Meanwhile, a meeting of representatives of the Mizrachi, Agudas Israel and labor wings of both organizations today agreed formally to reconstitute the Religious Bloc for the forthcoming national elections. The party will open its election campaign after approving its platform next Sunday.

Earlier, at a meeting at which Lemifneh, dissident wing of the Labor Mizrachi group was not represented; the Labor Mizrachi Organization decided to join the Religious Bloc coalition. The dissident group previously voted against joining the Religious Bloc slate and split with the parent organization on the issue of compulsory service for Orthodox women.

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