Haredi protester arrested, Jerusalem, August 17, 2014.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
A haredi extremist thought to be a senior activist in a campaign to “shame” haredi men who are serving or have served in the IDF was arrested late Thursday night in Bnei Brak.
The activist, 35, is suspected of being behind a new initiative by anti-enlistment campaigners, in which a database of photographs of haredi soldiers has been created with the express purpose of publicizing their names and pictures to “shame” them.
IDF enlistment in the haredi community is still a sensitive topic, and many haredi soldiers are cautious about revealing their military service.
The “shaming” campaign is designed to delegitimize haredi soldiers and seeks to shore up the notion that haredi enlistment in the IDF is socially unacceptable.
The project is the latest step in a campaign that began when efforts to legislate compulsory military service for haredi men began during the tenure of the last government.
Known as the “hardak” campaign, meaning simple minded haredi, offensive and disparaging images of haredi soldiers and haredi men involved in enlistment campaigns, along with fliers, and public notices, were distributed in haredi neighborhoods.
Last year, a joint committee of government and security officials was established by Deputy Defense Minister Eli Ben-Dahan to intensify efforts to disrupt and halt the incitement campaigns against haredi soldiers and enlistment.
Several complaints were filed with the police by people whose pictures had been published in the online database, and a police investigation into the campaign was initiated, while the joint committee, which includes officials from the IDF, police and State Attorney’s office, also conducted efforts to find the source of the new campaign.
The suspect was eventually identified and arrested Thursday night. Evidence found at his residence reportedly tied him to the new shaming campaign, and he was brought to the Tel Aviv Magistrate’s court on Friday morning.
“This is the results of great efforts which the joint committee has been conducting to deal with incitement against haredi soldiers, established at my initiative,” said Ben-Dahan following the arrest.
“The struggle is complicated, but all the different officials stepped up a gear and soon I hope we will see additional results. Incitement against IDF soldiers will not be allowed to pass quietly and will be dealt with harshly. Harming IDF soldiers and their families contravenes the commandments of the Torah which the campaigners claim they are trying to protect.”