(photo credit: Sam Sokol)
The IDF on Sunday denounced posters in ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods vilifying
The posters are part of an organized campaign by
extremists to delegitimize ultra-Orthodox men who choose to volunteer for
The extremists refer to these soldiers by a derogatory
Hebrew acronym meaning “weak-minded haredi,” which is also an amalgam of the
words “haredi” and “harakim,” or insects.
Haredi soldiers have complained
of harassment and there have been multiple reported cases of enlistees facing
physical and verbal violence. Earlier this year a haredi soldier was pulled out
of his car and beaten. In another case, several dozen young men set upon a pair
of uniformed soldiers walking through the Jerusalem neighborhood of Mea
She’arim. As of July the army had received over 80 complaints of physical
violence and verbal abuse.
The uptick in attacks against haredi soldiers
has been linked by Deputy Defense Minister Danny Danon and other officials to
the “hardak” campaign.
“The IDF utterly denounces and condemns any
violent behavior, physical or verbal, toward those who serve. The IDF provides
special support to those who serve in it from the haredi community, due to
sensitivity to their position,” the army said in a statement in response to the
newest batch of posters.
“The military has set up a 24-hour assistance
hotline for haredi soldiers.”
The posters show a haredi soldier, with
part of his face blurred out, changing from his uniform into the more common
haredi outfit of black pants and white shirt.
“Hardakim are missionaries
with a double identity,” the sign proclaimed.
“The hardakim viruses are
spreading,” the sign continued. The so-called hardakim, it claimed, are trying
to “entice the senses” of haredi children with talk of “holding a rifle and
feeling like a false hero.”
Calling haredi servicemen a “deadly danger,”
the poster also featured an illustration of a soldier with sidelocks kidnapping
crying children and placing them in an army jeep.
The hardak campaign has
utilized cheerful looking cartoons and even ran a contest asking children to
submit their drawings of the evils of haredi soldiers.
A comic book for
children released by the campaign in November portrayed secular Israelis as
bears luring innocent haredi sheep into the army in order to consume
“No investigation [has been] opened as of [Sunday] evening.
However, this issue is being looked into,” police spokesman Micky Rosenfeld told
The Jerusalem Post.
According to MK Dov Lipman, the funding for this
campaign may come from abroad.
“I have sources which indicate that the
funding is coming from the United States,” he told the Post.
Sharon contributed to this report.