In an unusually harsh statement, the IDF's head of planning and personnel, Gadi Agmon, said that the ongoing campaign by hareidi groups opposed to IDF service for yeshiva students “reminiscent of Nazi propaganda. The content and tone of this campaign against the IDF is extremely serious, similar to the attacks that appeared against Jews in 'Der Sturmer,'” the Nazi propaganda paper that vilified Jews, setting the tone for German acceptance of the “Final Solution.”
Agmon made the statement in a press conference discussing the response of the hareidi religious community to the prospect of yeshiva students serving in the IDF. Under legislation proposed by Bayit Yehudi and Yesh Atid, thousands of currently exempt students will have to serve in the IDF, with just 1,800 of the best students granted a deferment.
The hareidi community has been up in arms over the laws, with heads of yeshivas telling students not to register for army service. Large protests have been organized, with community heads proclaiming that students will either face mass arrest, or emigrate abroad to avoid being drafted.
But Agmon said that things had gone much farther. Hareidi soldiers already serving in the army, he said, were facing harassment and even violence in their home neighborhoods, as sentiment in the hareidi community against the army increased. “Things are getting worse and the incidents are getting more serious, with the attacks taking on an unprecedented character,” he said.
The campaign against hareidi soldiers, he said, was aimed at chasing them out of their neighborhoods, with photos of soldiers posted in hareidi neighborhoods, warning residents to “beware” of them and their “negative influences on the holy souls” of children. Soldiers were being beaten, spit upon, thrown out of synagogues, and generally made to feel unwelcome – much, he said, as the Jews were treated in Nazi Germany in the 1930s.
MK Meirav Michaeli (Labor), also present at the press conference, asked police officials to increase patrols in hareidi neighborhoods to prevent the incidents. “There are groups in this country who feel it is okay to hurt others,” she said. “Police need to deal with this issue effectively.”