Hamodia haredi news paper condemn attack on IDF officer

Yated Neeman denounces haredi participation in Remembrance Day events.

Haredi man and IDF soldiers in Jerusalem. (photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
Haredi man and IDF soldiers in Jerusalem.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM)
The widely circulated haredi daily Hamodia published an editorial on Sunday condemning the recent attack against an IDF officer in the ultra-Orthodox neighborhood of Mea She’arim in Jerusalem.
The national-religious officer, who serves as a commander in a haredi (ultra-Orthodox) battalion of the Givati infantry brigade, was wearing an army uniform and a crocheted skullcap as he entered the neighborhood on Friday to visit two of his soldiers he said were in dire financial straits.
He was spotted going into an apartment building where one of the soldiers lives, and upon returning to his car was attacked and stoned by dozens of haredi youths. He was unhurt but his car was badly damaged.
A fierce and vitriolic propaganda campaign against haredi enlistment in the IDF was conducted by radical elements in the ultra-Orthodox community when proposals were being drawn up for legislation to draft haredi men into the military in 2013 and 2014, and a spate of physical attacks against haredi soldiers in Mea She’arim occurred in the summer of 2013.
Most of the mainstream haredi press, which hardly ever publishes any rebuke of the community it serves, ignored Friday’s incident in their Sunday editions.
But in a rare demonstration of self-criticism, Hamodia expressed repugnance toward the acts of what it described as a handful of extremists, saying that the attackers contravened Jewish law in assaulting the officer.
“The incident at any level was crass, forbidden according to Jewish law, and has no backing from any Torah authority, and anyone who took part in it should be denounced and condemned,” Hamodia’s editorial read.
The paper said that the haredi community’s struggle against “the coercive drafting of Torah students” into the military was unconnected to and did not justify the assault against the soldier, and that anyone who committed such acts does not speak for the haredi community and does not represent its values or its way of life.
The incident caused a desecration of God’s name and caused damage to the haredi community and could be used to incite against it, the paper added.
But in a note of criticism, it insisted that only the leading haredi rabbis represent the community and not “those of light faith,” a phrase often used as a euphemism for haredi men who serve in the IDF by those campaigning against enlistment.
Jerusalem Chief Rabbi Aryeh Stern met with the officer at his home on Saturday night, condemned the attack and accused the extremists who attacked him of desiring “foreign government” in place of the Israeli state.
Yated Ne’eman, the most widely circulated haredi daily newspaper, ignored the attack entirely and gave space on Sunday in its editorial to denounce haredim who attended and participated in the torch-lighting ceremony on the eve of Independence Day.
It described haredim who participate in remembrance events and celebrate Independence Day as being on the “extreme margins” of haredi society “and perhaps even outside of the margins” despite dressing in traditional haredi garb of black suits, white shirts and black hats.
“What is clear today is that there is not one shred of harediness left in them,” read Yated Ne’eman’s editorial.
“A Jew who trembles at the word of God has no connection to heretical celebrations, events that shout about ‘my strength and the power of my hand,’ an event that denies in its very essence the fact that there is a Creator to the creation and it is He who leads it,” according to the editorial.