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Barclays Center event June 11 to protest plans to expand Israeli draft; questions about logistics

At right is a photo of a poster spotted in Hasidic Williamsburg right. Clearly there's an event scheduled at the Barclays Center aimed at the Haredi Jewish community (strict Orthodox Jews who reject secular culture), but the lack of English text makes it cryptic.

The website Matzav.com explains, Protest Against Israeli Draft of Bnei Yeshiva Rescheduled for Barclays Center:
A large asifa to protest the drafting of bnei yeshiva in Eretz Yisroel into the Israeli army that had been set to take place this month will instead be held on Sunday, 17 Sivan/June 11, at the Barclays Center in Downtown Brooklyn, NY.
So attendees at a big gathering will protest an apparent change of policy that will make it much more difficult for traditional Orthodox Jewish students--both Hasidic (who follow a rebbe) and non-Hasidic (who don't)--to get deferments from the draft. Comments on the Yeshiva World website explain some of the debate.

The logistical questions

What's unclear is how large the event will be, and whether large groups will be coming by bus. (Sunday is a school day for religious Jews, and some likely will be coming from upstate.) The event was originally scheduled for the Prudential Center in Newark, so it's clearly aiming at a broad audience.

The only previous event at the Barclays Center aimed at a large Orthodox Jewish audience, in March 2015, turned into a logistical mess, as buses inundated the surrounding neighborhood rather than go to a staging area, as scheduled.

If the arena again tried to bring 200 buses to Flatbush, "we would say No way," Deputy Inspector Frank DiGiacomo affirmed at a meeting after the event.

Perhaps we'll learn more about the event at tonight's meeting of the 78th Precinct Community Council.

Given that non-ticketed, privately booked events can bring large crowds into the residential areas around the Barclays Center, it's unwise that they're no longer listed (with expected crowds) on the monthly event calendars distributed by the arena.

Perhaps this will come up at the June 6 meeting of the Atlantic Yards Community Development Corporation, as well.

The background for the protest

One commenter on Yeshiva World News pointed to the current issue of the Flatbush Jewish Journal, where, on page 8, a writer points to a "crisis" that will lead to "a drastic downsizing" of religious studies. According to the writer, while most yeshiva students can easily get an exemption, others, from smaller or lesser-known schools, have become disqualified for exemptions and thus get drafted into the army.

The Flatbush Jewish Journal writer suggested the trend will lead to a crisis, severely undermining the "single greatest source of protection" from outside threats, the intense study of torah. By contrast, a poster on Yeshiva World News wrote:
What was originally meant as a limited waiver of the draft for a small number of serious learners has morphed over the years to a sense of entitlement for ANY chareidi bochur [student] to avoid the draft or any form of alternative public service and shift the burden on to others.
Though I couldn't easily find confirmation of a massive policy change, the issue of draft deferments--as well as the participation of Haredi Jews in national responsibilities--is an extremely contentious issue in Israel. Here's extensive coverage in the Times of Israel. See screenshot at right.

The liberal newspaper Haaretz did report 4/3/17:
The movement has organized several protests in recent weeks after three ultra-Orthodox men were arrested for shirking the draft. The three yeshiva students had ignored summonses calling them to report to the army to arrange a deferment, as most ultra-Orthodox males of draft age do.

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