IDF denounces posters vilifying ultra-orthodox soldiers

"Hardakim are missionaries with a double identity," new posters proclaim, "the hardakim viruses are spreading."

Hardakim posters (photo credit: Sam Sokol)
Hardakim posters
(photo credit: Sam Sokol)
The IDF on Sunday denounced posters in ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods vilifying haredi soldiers.
The posters are part of an organized campaign by extremists to delegitimize ultra-Orthodox men who choose to volunteer for military service.
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 them.
“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.Jeremy Sharon contributed to this report.