IDF says Haredi attacks on soldiers are like Der Sturmer
An unusual remark was made by a senior military official regarding harassment and incitement against haredi recruits.Those pashkevils calling the Haredis joining the army "chardakim" are some of the most horrific imitations of anti-semitic propaganda I've ever seen. How could they ever stoop so low? I hope the army presses serious charges against any Haredi hoodlums who attacked soldiers in their own communities, and that the police will step up protection for present and future victims of these awful assaults.
"The phenomenon and its style are as serious as the Der Sturmer (Nazi propaganda newspaper) attacks," said Brigadier-General Gadi Agmon, head of planning in the IDF's Personnel Directorate, during an open discussion at the Knesset's Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee.
The committee's discussion on the issue of equal share of the burden revealed an increase in the level of harassment and aggression towards haredi recruits. According to the data presented, since the Peri Committee began to take steps towards equality of burden, haredi soldiers have experienced increased isolation, violence and harassment.
The harassment includes physical assault, spitting at synagogues, slashing of tires and vandalism. "It is a phenomenon that is constantly exacerbating, a campaign of unprecedented nature that is pre-planned" said Brig.-Gen. Agmon.
The IDF representative noted that "there is condemnation and aggressive speech on the haredi extremists' pashkevils (street posters). These expressions are meant to condemn them (the soldiers), remove them from the congregations, synagogues and neighborhoods in which they live.
Update: The Jerusalem Post tells more:
Agmon noted that in addition to the intense social pressure, the army has received 80 complaints of physical violence and verbal abuse, in which haredi soldiers have reported that tires of their vehicles have been slashed, graffiti has been sprayed at their homes, they have been spat on and had stones thrown at them. The general noted that family members of haredi soldiers were also being targeted by the extremists and harassed.It's atrocious, but no less so is the Haredi political parties' refusal to attend the meeting and condemn the attacks. If no Haredi politicians attended this conference, that speaks volumes of just how low they can go. This is why I honestly think some Haredis should either find communities where their army service is more respected, or leave the lifestyle altogether, which in no way means leaving religious lifestyle. There is a difference.
Despite the 80 complaints, the police has received only one formal complaint, on the basis of which it opened three criminal files. No arrests have been made to date.
Elhanan Fromer, a former IDF soldier who served in the haredi IDF Shahar track and who attended Monday’s hearing, said that if he were considering whether or not to enlist today he would chose not to because of the heavy personal price involved in the decision.
He said that synagogues frequently refuse to allow haredi soldiers to participate in prayer services, and that if they are allowed to join the minyan, or quorum of men, they are prevented from being called up to the Torah and face other sanctions.
“In haredi society, acceptance in haredi institutions is critical,” Fromer said.
Referring to the discrepancy between the number of reports of harassment known to the army and the number of formal complaints made to the police, he said that “We all know that the moment you submit a complaint, the harassment against you just gets worse.” Fromer called specifically for the state to fine any institution that prevents IDF graduates from joining them, but added that haredi soldiers were currently feeling neglected by the state.
He called attention to the absence of any haredi MKs in the committee hearing and pointed out that haredi soldiers had no communal support at all for their choice to enlist, neither from rabbis nor from politicians, and added that the failure of the state to take steps to protect haredi soldiers left them feeling completely abandoned.
Update: here's another report on the issue.