The press release comes from an organization called Let Our People Go, whose mission is "Decrying Israel's Persecution of Religious Jews." (The issue, as noted in coverage by the Jerusalem Post and Times of Israel, is somewhat more complicated.)
The press release is headlined Let Our People Go: Tens of Thousands to Protest Israel's Forced Draft of Religious Jews. (Note that the Barclays Center seats 17,732 for basketball, somewhat more if seats are on the floor.)
BROOKLYN, N.Y., June 6, 2017 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Forced conscription of Israel's religious population will be bringing thousands to protest at Brooklyn's Barclay Center June 11th. The Central Rabbinical Congress of the USA and Canada (CRC), intends to voice their opposition to Israel's plan to forcefully enlist Haredim (Ultra-Orthodox Jews) in the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF), violating their religious precepts.
The demonstration will express solidarity with the Israeli Haredi community while protesting the Israeli government's draft policy and issuing a plea for help from international policy-makers. "We want the world to know about their (Haredi Jews) plight, that their religious rights are being systematically abused. The Israeli government isn't allowing for freedom of assembly or freedom of speech on this issue," said CRC spokesman Rabbi Isaac Green. "This last Friday the Israeli police broke into the Toldos Aharon Synagogue in Jerusalem, clubbing 13-year-old boys and older men. They ended up arresting 16 people for anti-draft activism, for voicing a dissident opinion. They say they're the only democracy in the Middle East, but we're not seeing it."
(PRNewsfoto/Let Our People Go)...
Israel's new draft laws aim to eliminate religious military exemptions, a policy that has been in place since the creation of the Israeli state in 1948. Rejecting assertions that IDF service is incompatible with Haredi religious convictions, the Israeli government has stepped up efforts to coerce Haredim to enlist. "Law-making is one of the milder forms of "encouragement" being used lately", says Rabbi Green. Haredi activists in Israel are reporting almost daily instances of police brutality and the number of anti-draft activists detained in Israel's prisons has ballooned as of late. Peaceful protests have been marred by excessive force on the part of the police and residents of Haredi enclaves tell of being doused with dyed water cannons and flailed by police batons. One recent protest saw the police wielding nightsticks against a group of Haredi women.
Orthodox girls have also been targeted for harassment, says Rabbi Green. "One religious Ethiopian immigrant, Rivka Yeshayahu, was detained for over a month without a bail hearing because the Israeli Postal Service lost her military exemption documents. Three times, no less." The CRC has received numerous reports of the Israeli police breaking into homes at night, without warrants, and carting off those who were previously told that their military exemptions were in order.
"This demonstration is designed to show Israel that they can't just do whatever they want to the religious community," said Rabbi Green, "someone will hold them accountable."