Hundreds of Orthodox Jews gathered in front of the United Nations Headquarters to protest the Israeli state and its compulsory military service as Netanyahu addressed the UN General Assembly.
NEW YORK — “Israeli government, shame on you, Israeli government shame on you.”
The street outside the United Nations Headquarters in New York resonated with this slogan as a large crowd of ultra-Orthodox Jewish men, some wearing black fedoras and some dressed in black suits with white shirts, protested Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's presence at the UN General Assembly on September 27.
The ultra-Orthodox protesters said they gathered to send a message to the UN that Netanyahu is “not representing Jewish people or the Jewish religion.” They also protested Israel's mandatory military service.
"Haredim" or "Haredi", an ultra-Orthodox Jewish group which makes up around 10 percent of the Israeli population, were exempted from compulsory military service since Israel’s foundation in 1948. But the Israeli parliament, under Netanyahu's government, passed a law in 2014 requiring Orthodox Jews to serve in the military.
“According to our religion, we should not take a state for our own – we’re against the idea of statehood. The secular Jews created the state, and now they’re trying to force us to serve for them,” Lipa Teller, a 20-year-old protester from Brooklyn told TRT World.
“If it’s not allowed to have a state, then I don’t want to serve in the army to protect the state,” another protester from Brooklyn, 21-year-old Moshe Klein told TRT World.
The protesters’ posters carried placards that read: “Benjamin Netanyahu and the State of Israel do not represent world Jewry” and “Sos, Jews worldwide condemn Israeli brutality.”
After occupying Palestinian lands for more than 50 years, Israel continues to expand its settlements in the country, contravening international law and UN resolutions.
“According to (the) basics of Jewish belief, we’re forbidden to fight wars or (from) conflicts against any nation. From the very beginning, (the) Israeli state has been in total contrast of that,” a 48-year-old rabbi, Dovid Feldman, told TRT World.
“People think there is freedom of speech in Israel but whoever publicly speaks up against whatever (the) Israeli state stands for would be arrested, harassed or intimidated.”
“We pray that during our high holy days right now: The wickedness must stop, (the) Israeli state must stop. What we hope (for) is peaceful – no more suffering for anyone. The bloodshed is not something that none of us should enjoy, accept or justify."