Mea She’arim – Israeli police are investigating the production and distribution of material inciting against haredi soldiers, in particular a booklet naming IDF officers involved in efforts to integrate haredi men into the military.
Approximately two weeks ago, a group of haredi IDF soldiers and officers submitted complaints to the police about the so-called “Hardak” campaign against haredi soldiers.
Hardak is a Hebrew acronym meaning a “weak-minded haredi” and used in reference to ultra-Orthodox men who enlist in the IDF.
The campaign began approximately two years ago as debate surrounding efforts to draft haredi men into military service intensified, and has included the distribution in haredi neighborhoods of posters and flyers of an extremely provocative nature, depicting haredi IDF soldiers as pigs, unintelligent, unclean, and as kidnappers of haredi children.
During 2013, there was a wave of attacks against haredi soldiers in Jerusalem’s ultra-Orthodox Mea She’arim neighborhood, and more attacks there in 2014 and in extremist haredi neighborhoods in Beit Shemesh as well.
In April this year, a national-religious IDF officer was attacked in Mea She’arim, where he was visiting two haredi soldiers under his command.
The campaign is thought to be the work of an extremist haredi group that has broken away from the mainstream community over the issue of haredi enlistment, but has declined in recent months after the issue left the media spotlight.
The campaign has since been renewed in the last few weeks and new posters and flyers have appeared once again inciting against haredi men who enlist to the IDF. Several weeks ago, a “Hardak” campaign booklet included names and pictures of haredi officers who are involved in helping integrate haredim into the military, and called efforts to recruit haredi men into the IDF a campaign of destruction against the haredi community.
This prompted the six officers to submit complaints to the police that the booklet constituted incitement to violence against them, while their wives submitted separate complaints, demanding that the producers and disseminators of the material be prosecuted.
According to an IDF source, there have been problems in the past prosecuting those who are producing this material, since it was not clear whether or not the flyers and posters constituted criminal incitement or were merely offensive.
The source said the recent booklet including the names and pictures of the soldiers was likely closer to being a criminal offense given the context and messages of the material.
In addition to approaching the police, a letter was also sent to Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon, IDF Chief of Staff Lt.-Gen. Gadi Eizenkot, Manpower Directorate head Maj.-Gen. Hagai Topolansky, Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked, and haredi MK and Deputy Minister of Health Ya’acov Litzman requesting their help in the matter.