Israeli MK Demands Colleague Be Charged With Sedition for Calling for Draft Dodging

MK Bezalel Smotrich published article saying that religious youths should avoid enlistment in order to 'save the IDF.'

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MK Bezalel Smotrich.
MK Bezalel Smotrich.Credit: Tomer Appelbaum
Jonathan Lis
Jonathan Lis

Israeli Knesset member Erel Margalit (Zionist Union), sent a letter Thursday to Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit, demanding that his colleague Bezalel Smotrich (Habayit Hayehudi) be investigated for sedition in response to his call for religious youths to avoid the draft.

"MK Smotrich is using his public platform to the detriment of the State of Israel, to whom he has sworn (or declared) allegiance," Margalit wrote in his letter. "These severe acts committed by MK Smotrich sharply and clearly constitute incitement to dodge the draft and to not comply with orders."

Smotrich incurred the wrath of Margalit and others on Thursday when he published an article headlined "Saving the IDF - by not enlisting" in the Zionist ultra-Orthodox publication Besheva.

In turn, Smotrich's article was weighing in on a larger discussion taking place over the role of women in the army - a discussion began during a lecture by Rabbi Yigal Levinstein who said, "They're driving our girls crazy. They draft them. They go in Jewish and they're not Jewish when they come out; not in terms of genetics ... Agreeing to this is forbidden."

In his article, Smotrich wrote, ""the IDF needs quiet and manpower. If it will understand that in opposition to the terror it will face from gender groups and their supporters, we too know how to make a mess and give it a headache – a different equation will be created.

"Even more so, if the yeshivas and pre-army academies keep their students a few more months to strengthen Torah studies, and skip one draft, the army will ask itself what's preferable – quality, motivated fighters or unisex bathrooms in Bahad 1," he said, referring to the IDF officers' school.

The article by Smotrich was grounds for an immediate investigation, according to Margalit, who said that, "There's no place in the State of Israel, as a Jewish and democratic country, for a public servant to call for open rebellion in the people's army."

MK Elazar Stern (Yesh Atid) also reacted with consternation to Smotrich's writing saying, "We do no enlist in the IDF with any conditions and we do no protect MK Smotrich's home in Kedumim with any conditions. We join the IDF from a belief in the State of Israel as a Jewish, democratic state, even if there are missions, events and instances that we don't like so much. Our enlistment and contribution to the IDF isn't dependent on anything.

"A call for refusal to enlist in the IDF is post-Zionism and a direct continuation of the very worrying voices that have recently emerged from the irresponsible political leadership of religious Zionism," said Stern. "I call on my colleagues in religious Zionism to call out Smotrich and his party from among us. This is not the way of religious Zionism that we grew up with!"

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