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Repeat Performance: Hareidi Extremists Attack IDF Soldier

After a series of similar attacks, and less than a day after leading hareidi rabbi accused of incitement, extremists target soldiers again
By Ari Soffer
First Publish: 7/14/2013, 4:26 PM

Police at the site of previous attack, 9 July
Police at the site of previous attack, 9 July
Flash 90

In a story that is becoming worryingly familiar to many Israelis and Jews throughout the world, a religious soldier was attacked Sunday afternoon in the predominantly hareidi-religious Beit Yisrael neighborhood of Jerusalem.

The attackers, two members of the hareidi community, fled after a fight ensued and are the subject of a search by authorities. The soldier did not require medical attention.

This is only the latest in a string of incidents in which hareidi extremists have targeted IDF soldiers - particularly those who are visibly religious. The attacks are seen as a response to attempts by the Israeli government to apply the universal draft to hareidi men as well.

Currently, hareidim are exempt from serving in the army if they are engaged in full-time learning, whereas all other Israeli men over the age of 18 are required to enlist. This is viewed as unfair by many Israelis, particularly given that subsequent to avoiding national service, most hareidim tend not to seek employment, choosing instead to live on a mixture of communal handouts and state benefits.

Unlike their hareidi counterparts, religious Zionists (also known as dati'im le'umi'im or "National Religious") believe that intensive Torah study and a strict adherence to Jewish Law can and should be combined with military service and other forms of activities - such as employment - which hareidim disdain as "secular." 

The proposed law will still allow for a limited number of exceptional students to remain in full-time study.

Incitement

This latest attack comes on the heals of a widely condemned address by a leading hareidi rabbi, in which he branded religious Zionist Jews as "not Jewish" and declared that they were in fact "Amalek" - a terminology used to describe enemies of the Jewish people who must be wiped out.

Religious Zionist leaders reacted with outrage and disbelief at the comments by Rabbi Shalom Cohen, a member of the Shas party's "Council of Torah Sages."

His comments have been viewed as particularly galling as they were made only two days before the Fast of Av, in which Jews throughout the world mourn the destruction of the two holy Temples in Jerusalem, which occurred in great part due to internal strife and infighting within the Kingdom of Judea.