Belz Hasidim Threaten Mass Exodus Over Israel Draft Reform

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The Hassidic Belz community, one of the largest Hassidic courts in the country, is threatening to leave Israel if the proposed military draft law is passed by the Knesset, Maariv reports.

The main headline in Thursday's edition of Hamachane Hacheredi, the Belz newspaper, was "Initial preparations for mass emigration from Israel." According to the paper, American senators have already promised assistance in obtaining refugee status for every Haredi family that wishes to leave Israel.

The paper wrote of "the pain involved in leaving the Holy Land," but nevertheless vowed that "emigration offices will open for registrations" the day that the draft law is passed.

A senior member of the Belz community told Maariv that the background to the emigration announcement was a meeting in Jerusalem this week between the Belzer Rebbe and the Satmar Rebbe, who lives in the United States and takes an anti-Zionist line. The two are related by marriage, being married to sisters.

"The Satmar Rebbe told our rebbe that Satmar in the U.S. would assist us, were we to decide to move there," the Belz member said. "He described the thriving Torah world in America and it appears that the situation there is better than here."

The Belz community is adamant that the newspaper headline is more than just a statement. Behind it is a solid plan which will go into effect if the law is passed, they say.

"Its not just the draft," he continued. "It’s the entire atmosphere here in Israel over the past year. We are being attacked on every possible front. Once they'll finish with the draft, they will pass on to the [issue of a mandatory education curriculum], and nobody knows what else they are preparing."

He added that the community is attempting to draw other Haredi communities to their plan. At this point, though, no similar proclamation has been made by any other streams' media.

At the wedding of the grandson of the Belz Rebbe in Jerusalem. May 22, 2013Credit: Ahikam Seri

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