Danon condemns haredi campaign against soldiers

Deputy Defense Minster calls on action against attacks waged to "delegitimize" IDF enlistment of ultra-Orthodox soldiers.

June 19, 2013 17:55
3 minute read.
Haredi IDF soldiers in the Jordan Valley

Haredi IDF soldiers Tal Law 370. (photo credit: REUTERS/Handout .)

Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon (Likud) on Tuesday called upon Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovich to deal firmly with the growing number of attacks on haredi soldiers that have been reported in recent weeks.

Danon said that recent months have witnessed a significant decline in haredi IDF enlistment, which stood until recently at approximately 15 percent of the possible annual intake.

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In a statement to the press, Danon noted that representatives of the haredi community raised the issue of the “aggressive campaign being conducted against haredi soldiers” in a recent meeting between them and the deputy minister.

There have been several incidents in recent weeks in which haredi soldiers have been subject to either verbal abuse or physical assault for having “betrayed” the haredi community and enlisting in the army.

In one incident earlier this month in Jerusalem, several haredi youths pulled a haredi soldier out of his car, tore off his yarmulke and beat him.

The soldier was hospitalized with minor injuries. A similar incident occurred in the capital in May when two uniformed haredi soldiers were attacked and beaten while walking through the haredi Mea Shearim neighborhood.

Danon said that the campaign is designed to delegitimize the notion of IDF service in the haredi community.

“We cannot compromise on the struggle against those who are besmirching military service and criminals who attack IDF soldiers,” said the deputy minister. “We must not stand by and watch the rift in haredi society on the issue of enlistment be accompanied by physical and verbal abuse.”

Danon stated that he had asked Aharonovich to deal decisively and uncompromisingly with those behind the campaign and anyone involved in attacks on soldiers.

The uptick in attacks against haredi soldiers has been linked to a vigorous poster and information campaign that is being waged by hard-line elements in the haredi community in recent months against haredi men who enlist in the Israeli army.

Such men are labeled “hardakim,” a derogatory acronym for a “weak-minded haredi” person and also, an amalgam of the words “haredi” and “harakim,” or insects.

One widely distributed poster featured an illustration of a haredi soldier in IDF uniform abandoning a haredi protest and leaping over a wall into a fiery blaze of haredim in uniform.

“Committing suicide for a livelihood,” the poster declares of such soldiers.

At a mass demonstration against legislation for drafting haredi yeshiva students last month, haredi activists handed out pamphlets explaining how to counter the arguments of hardakim. Two weeks ago, a competition was announced asking children and professionals to send in their best drawings of hardakim. The haredi news website B’hadrei Haredim published on Monday some of the submissions from the children’s category, including one showing a garbage truck sweeping up so-called hardakim in IDF uniforms.

The winning entries will be posted around haredi neighborhoods and sent via email to a special distribution list of several hundred thousand addresses.

Posters currently on display in ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods mock recent calls not to attack haredi conscripts. The posters tout themselves as from the “Rabbinical Court of the Community of Weak-minded Haredim,” headed by “the great rabbis” Tzadok and Beitus, heretics from the Talmudic era, “the mystic and convert to Islam Shabbatai Tzvi,” a false messiah from the 17th century, and other bête noirs of the haredi community.

The mock declaration cites various rabbinic sources supporting public opposition to someone who commits a sin and says sarcastically in the name of the “rabbis” of the “Rabbinical Court of Hardakim” that they do not think such methods are a good idea any longer.

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