Haredi man in Jerusalem .
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
A new organization which seeks to combat Haredi (ultra-Orthodox) extremists and their violent campaign against military service has called on the public to boycott Badatz food products supervised by the Eda Haredit Rabbinical Court.
The Forum Against Incitement has decided to take up arms, figuratively speaking, against the extremists who attack and harass Haredi men who do serve in the IDF and against those who block roads and major junctions as part of the anti-enlistment protests.
There are two major groups carrying out these protests. One is the hardline Jerusalem Faction group, which split off from the Haredi mainstream in recent years and ordered yeshiva students associated with it not to cooperate with the army in any way.
The second is the more venerable and historically more radical, anti-Zionist Eda Haredit communal association, which is based in Jerusalem but has communities in Beit Shemesh.
Although the mainstream Haredi community has never historically participated in the frequent riots of the Eda Haredit, the radicalization of the Jerusalem Faction has brought the two into closer alignment and members of both groups are found at anti-enlistment demonstrations that have taken place in recent months.
Alongside the riots, another phenomenon that has arisen in recent years is a campaign of harassment and incitement against Haredi men who enlist in the IDF. Pamphlets, fliers and posters have been published and disseminated in Haredi neighborhoods, which denigrate and besmirch Haredi men who enlist.
Members of the Haredi public have also been encouraged to harass Haredi soldiers and those involved in recruiting them. There have been numerous incidents of violence against such people.
One of the major sources of income for the Eda Haredit is its universally accepted kashrut supervision which is considered to be totally reliable and accepted by broad swaths of the Haredi community.
It is used by a plethora of food manufacturing companies and can be found on hundreds if not thousands of food products in Israel, earning millions of shekels for the kashrut authority and ultimately for the umbrella communal organization.
The Forum Against Incitement is proposing that the public boycott Eda Haredit supervised products as a way to reduce the demand for its products and thereby reduce its revenues.
“I want to emphasize that we see the main responsibility for financing incitement in the commercial food companies which use the services of the Eda Haredit’s Badatz kashrut authority thereby allowing them to finance the incitement of the heads of the Eda Haredit who advance this incitement and send out thousands of activists to protest violently on the streets,” said forum chairman Bizi Tzavri on Tuesday at a news conference in Jerusalem.
“We are calling on all food companies to stop financing incitement and injury to IDF soldiers through their association with the Badatz Eda Haredit.”
Gadi Dimri, another member of the forum and a resident of Beit Shemesh, described how some neighborhoods in the city had become “extraterritorial to the State of Israel” and how entrances for some people, such as women from the non-Haredi community and soldiers, is a real danger.
There have been several incidents in Beit Shemesh and the Mea She’arim neighborhood of Jerusalem of soldiers being surrounded by mobs of extremist Haredi men, who scream at them and harassing them until they leave.
In order to protect soldiers, Dimri announced the establishment of another organization called Posting Guards which will send escorts to help soldiers exit such neighborhoods if they find themselves under attack there.
Moshe Lurber, another Haredi member of the forum, insisted that the majority were law-abiding citizens who contribute to Israeli society in their own way, either in the IDF or civilian organizations such as Hatzalah, ZAKA, and other groups.
“Our activities are directed only against these extremist groups: the Eda Haredit and the Jerusalem Faction who not only harm IDF soldiers and the state, but also the image of all Haredi citizens in the country,” said Lurber.
Riots and demonstrations took place again on Monday night, with extremists from the Jerusalem Faction and the old “Yerushalmi” ultra-conservative community, which forms part of the Eda Haredit, blocking roads that created gridlock in both Bnei Brak and Jerusalem.
Extremists reportedly also threw rotting fish into the IDF enlistment office in Jerusalem close to Jaffa Street, and even tried to set fire to the site.
Twenty-six protesters were arrested by the police during the course of the night.