Mayor Barkat Appears at Haredi Draft Dodging Demonstration

Mayor Nir Barkat made an appearance at a Haredi protest honoring Yeshiva students who refused to drafted yesterday (April 3rd). Barkat was photographed smiling along with Deputy Mayor Haim Epstein.

The protest centered around 63 Yeshiva students who were released from military jail for refusing to join the army. The released Yeshiva students rode in limousines upon which were written: “No to the army, yes to Torah study without quotas (‘Michasot’ which could also mean covers) or goals.” The demonstration was attended by 50,000 members of Jerusalem’s Haredi population according to the Peleg Yerushalmi, which organized the event.

Peleg Yerushalmi is a Haredi political movement that strongly opposes any compromise with the state on matters of the draft. They have been behind many of the recent protests that have disrupted traffic throughout the city.

Barkat’s appearance was challenged by some including Otzma LeYisrael council member Arieh King who questioned if municipal money was spent on the demonstration (the text of the post was subsequently removed, though the photo remains).  Hitorerut council member Einav Bar Cohen tweeted that she expected an apology from the mayor. Barkat serves as a major in the reserves after serving for six years as a paratrooper.

In a response to reporter Yair Cherki, Barkat’s office said that he happened to stop for a moment just to say hello and happy holidays to Epstein. However, a Mynet report had him greeting multiple important figures in the Haredi world while he made the rounds at the protest.

Header Photo Credit: Itzik Edri

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