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Monday, May 19, 2014 

Haredi soldiers from Beit Shemesh afraid of attacks by fellow Haredis

I'd already heard a bit about the hostility to soldiers of Haredi backgrounds in those Ramat Beit Shemesh neighborhoods that are Haredi enclaves, and here's one soldier telling his experience:
In recent months, the IDF has confirmed that officers and soldiers living in hareidi neighborhoods - many of them themselves hareidim - have been subject to physical and verbal abuse. Now, a special committee has formed to address the problem.

Beit Shemesh, some neighborhoods of which have become hotbeds of hareidi extremism, presents a particular problem for the religious-Zionist community, which has been faced incitement from some quarters which has on occasion spilled into violence.

In the latest such episode, on Sunday Walla! News learned that soldiers from the city, which lies some 30 kilometers west of Jerusalem, have been given permission to change into civilian clothing before returning home from their bases, to prevent them from suffering from unwarranted abuse.

"I leave the base in uniform, then change into civilian clothes at the Central Bus Station before going home," Y., a combat officer, explained to the daily. Y. lamented the "group of fanatics who lives in our city and is responsible for all this mess - not only in terms of our own safety but also spitting on women, separate busses and fights with the Israel Antiquities Authority." [...]

Y stated that while Beit Shemesh's fanatics shout curses at the soldiers, there has been no physical violence - so far.

"They mainly spit curses at us, like 'hardak' [pejorative combination of words for 'vermin' and 'hareidi' - ed.], or spit at us," he said. "I've never met someone who has been the victim of physical violence, like what happens in Mea Shearim, but none of us want to see if it can get there."

"Overall, the fanatics all live in the same neighborhood," he reflected. "I realized that wearing olive green [fatigues], especially in combination with a [stereotypically hareidi] black yarmulke, is a red flag for them, so it's better to take them off."

Hareidi abuse is not confined to their own neighborhoods, however. A., a religious soldier from Beit Shemesh, told of experiencing physical assaults in some cases.

"Sometimes they push you suddenly or block you from getting on the bus, claiming they are unwilling to sit next to 'hardakim' - it happened to a friend of mine," he said. "But there were no physical blows."
But there could be soon if something isn't done about this.
Y continued that local soldiers in the hareidi side of Beit Shemesh have tried to appeal directly to the Rabbis of their attackers.

"We tried - and not just me, but many many people tried - and it just looks like [the Rabbis] don't have control over them," Y lamented.

He did give the Rabbis benefit of the doubt, despite his hardships. "I don't believe the Rabbis encourage this behavior, as fanatical as they are."
I wouldn't be too sure. For all we know, those fruitcake Haredi rabbis could encourage this alarming mentality behind the scenes.
Y also said that the hareidi community's actions have hurt him deeply.

"You go out and defend the country, give of yourself, put yourself in danger and then you have to take off your uniform and sneak home, ashamed, so no one will see who you really are," Y said. "It's like I'm returning home to [Palestinian Authority city] Jenin. This is a disgrace to the State of Israel and a disgrace to us as a society."
Of course. That's why isolationist societies like those can be a very bad thing.

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