New Israeli election highlights tense ties to ultra-Orthodox

2000 (2)Source: Associated Press

BY  ARON HELLER

JERUSALEM (AP) — The trigger for Israel’s unprecedented repeat election touches upon one of the major fault lines in Israeli society — the role of the growing ultra-Orthodox Jewish community in modern life.

Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s prospective government collapsed last week over the issue of military draft exemptions for ultra-Orthodox men, a source of longtime resentment among the secular majority of Jewish Israelis who are required to serve.

The conflict over the draft law is just one of several deep disagreements over the role of religion in Israeli society. While the ultra-Orthodox parties wield significant political influence, experts say their cloistered communities are being left behind by modern society, with long-lasting negative consequences for the future of the country.

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