Controversy Over Haredi Draft Weaponized for Multidimensional Encroachment on Equality and Independence of Judiciary

>> Read the full position paper in pdf

Some 300,000 IDF reservists were called up for duty following the outbreak of the war in Gaza after the Hamas attack on 7 October. The Defense Ministry published two bills, whereby mandatory service for men and women in combat roles will be extended to three years, the number of days reservists will serve each year will double, and the exemption age for reservists will rise to 45 for regular soldiers and to 50 for officers. In contrast, the bills make no mention of the government’s obligation to comply with Supreme Court rulings to resolve the inequality caused by the failure to draft Haredim (ultra-Orthodox Jews).

These bills have rekindled the public and political controversy over the Haredi draft. This document does not offer a plan for their conscription or deal directly with the controversy, but addresses the resulting multidimensional encroachment on equality and on the independence of the judicial system.

As will be explained below, the controversy prevents an explicit anchoring of the right to equality in a Basic Law; is used for weakening the public status of the right to equality and to deliberately exacerbate the conflict between the executive and legislative branches and the judiciary; causes governments to function in a constant state of unlawfulness that undermines the rule of law; is used to justify the violation of equality of other minorities, especially Arabs; constitutes a permanent barrier blocking the reduction of socioeconomic disparities and the Haredi minority’s poverty; and ignores the violation of equality of other populations that do not wish to enlist in the army for reasons of conscience and might be punished for it.


Dr. Maha Sabbah Karkabi


Senior Lecturer in the Department of Sociology and Anthropology, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev. She holds a Ph.D. in Sociology from Tel Aviv University (2015), a postdoctoral fellowship at the Center for Gender Studies, SOAS, University of London (2015-2016), a postdoctoral fellowship in the Department of Sociology at Tel Aviv University (2016-2017), and a postdoctoral fellowship Ph.D. at the Humphrey Institute for Social Research, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev (2018-2020).
Dr. Maha Karbahi’s areas of interest focus on the connection between social change, family behavior, and gender inequality in societies in the process of change and specifically in Palestinian Arab society in Israel. Her research draws attention to the study of family life and employment, using a combined “ethnic lens” and “gender lens” and paying attention to the perspective of Palestinian Arab women, a group characterized by intersections between multiple marginal locations, which over the years has remained hidden from the research eye. Dr. Karkabi-Sabah’s research is published in professional journals and chapters in scientific books that are considered pioneers in family research, work, and gender equality.


Prof. Frances Raday

Professor Emeritus in the Lieberman Chair in Labor Law, in the Faculty of Law at the Hebrew University and serves as a full professor in the College of Management’s academic track, where she also serves as chair of the graduate program and as honorary president of the Concord Center for International Law Absorption. Radai was a member of a working group of the UN Human Rights Council on discrimination against women. In addition, she is a prominent and feminist human rights activist.


Dr. Rawia Aburabia 

Faculty member of Sapir Academic College’s School of Law, received her PhD from the Hebrew University of Jerusalem. Her research deals with the interface between law, gender, minorities, and human rights. Has published in leading journals on the subject of the matrimonial laws pertaining to Muslim women in Israel. Her book Under the Law, Outside Justice: Polygamy, Gendered Citizenship, and Colonialism in Israeli Law is expected to be published as part of the Gender Series of Kibbutz Meuhad Publishing House.

Dr. Aburabia has extensive experience in international human rights and public law. She has worked as a jurist for the Association for Civil Right and has been invited as a specialist to address such international forums as the United Nations and the European Parliament on the subject of indigenous communities and minority rights. She has interned with Human Rights Watch in Washington DC, and has been a member of the executive board of Amnesty International. In 2018, she was selected by the magazine Globes as one of the 40 most promising young persons in Israel under the age of 40.



Ron Kessler

With over two decades of experience in the field of digital content, Ron has participated in numerous political and social campaigns. He helped run the digital activity of senior public officials, and worked in various NGOs. Ron is a fundamentally optimistic man, who believes that Israel can be changed and so can people. Lives in Tel Aviv.