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A Message From Heart to Heart

The following advertisement was published on Friday, June 29, 2018, in the Arabic newspaper Al Ittihad by the ultra-Orthodox Jewish community of the Holy Land. It explains the struggle of the Orthodox community against the military draft, and ends with a brotherly plea to their Arab neighbors.

With G-d's help:

A message from heart to heart, to our longtime neighbors in East Jerusalem and in all parts of Palestine

We, the Ultra-Orthodox Jewish residents of Jerusalem, the Haredim, people of the Old Yishuv [old settlement], have lived side by side with you as good neighbors for hundreds of years.

For many years, we lived together side by side, without the need for any separation walls and watchtowers.

The neighborly relations between your grandparents and ours were a symbol and a model of peaceful coexistence, as they coped with the difficulties of life and the challenges posed by the events of time.

According to the instructions of our community rabbis, we are prohibited from occupying any piece of land and establishing a Jewish state.

We have been in exile for 2,000 years and we are commanded by our religion to live humbly under the rule of the nations of the world. We are forbidden to take up arms and to participate in the army and the state. The state that was established between the Jordan River and the sea and claims to bear the name "Israel" was established contrary to the will of our leaders and to our dismay.

Since the Zionist leaders came to power in the land, they have been trying to force us to be part of their state, by forcing our sons and daughters to serve in their army. We categorically refuse to comply with this. This is strictly forbidden for us and falls under the category of the most severe sins, which we must be ready to sacrifice our lives rather than commit.

As a result, at any given time many of our children are in military prison, just because they want to refrain from enlisting in the IDF and being part of this army that keeps the state in existence, which, as stated above, is strictly forbidden.

We long for the day when this heretical state will be dismantled and we will return to live side by side in peace and security.

In the coming days, the Zionist government is trying to pass a modified version of the Defense Service Law, which aims to force our children into the army and to establish recruitment quotas for the Ultra-Orthodox community. The desire for forced conscription among the leaders of Zionism is insatiable. They are looking greedily at all the people of the country, Jews and Arabs, men and women. The danger of enlistment into the army and to the Zionist project is hovering above us all equally. . We approached the representatives of the Palestinian minority, with a heartfelt request: Please add your voices to those opposing this law. We ask for your united vote against the government's attempt to enlist us to serve its shameful occupation of the land, against our will. Do not allow, even indirectly, this terrible decree to pass. On this fateful and urgent issue, abstention and looking the other way are not enough; it must be openly opposed.

We ask of you to help us that our children should not become, G-d forbid, part of the heretical army. Do not, G-d forbid, lead our children to take up arms against our neighbors with whom we have lived for so many years in peace and harmony. Please help us to restore peace between us and do not cause violent incidents between us.

We hope that our request will find a listening ear and indeed the Arab representatives will help us to continue in our traditional path, until G-d helps and this terrible conflict, with all its casualties on both sides, comes to an end.

With respect and friendship

Your Ultra-Orthodox neighbors

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