'A despicable act, we need to wake up before its too late'

ZAKA head Yehuda Meshi Zahav reacted sharply to the hanging of effigies of haredi soldiers on Jerusalem streets during Purim.

Yoel Domb,

dummy of haredi soldier
dummy of haredi soldier
Police spokesman.

ZAKA head Yehuda Meshi Zahav reacted sharply on Tuesday to the effigies dressed as haredi soldiers hung from porches by extremist elements on a number of Jerusalem streets on Purim.

"I'm convinced that they are a tiny minority who do not represent anybody except for themselves and give the entire haredi community a bad name," Meshi Zahav told Yediot Aharonot.

Meshi Zahav, himself haredi, founded ZAKA in 1995 as a non-governmental rescue and recovery volunteer organization, with thousands of volunteers on call 24/7 to respond to any terror attack, accident or disaster.

Meshi Zahav said the phenomenon of baiting haredi soldiers began two years ago when haredi elements coined the term "hardakim" for haredi soldiers, an acronym for "simpleminded soldiers" or "simpleminded haredim."

"It began with shaming and has now come to the burning of effigies. This is a disgraceful act. The haredim who enlist are risking their lives for the people of Israel. Instead of working for a living they are devoting their lives to protecting the nation. They are to be compared to Haman? They are to be hanged in the town square? This is the most despicable act that could be.

Meshi Zahav also targeted the haredi leadership. "Those demonstrators are giving our entire community a bad name. We have political leaders and rabbis who should go out publicly and excoriate this behavior. These people must be removed from our neighborhoods, from our community. We cannot be afraid of a small minority which is harming all of us."

"I have issues with the state leadership as well," said Meshi Zahav. "These are IDF soldiers doing their duty and they are the holiest thing we have. I know this myself because my children enlisted in the army. It is unacceptable that the state does not place an 'iron dome' over them and protect them. What are they waiting for? The distance between hanging dummies and physical assaults is very small and it is only a matter of time before they occur.

"To this day there have been tens of cases of incitement and attacks yet only two indictments have been issued, it is unfathomable. I call on legislators, police, the State Prosecutor and Attorney General to wake up before it's too late."

Meshi Zahav's older son served in the Golani brigade, while his younger son is in the paratroopers. "I'm not embarrassed by them, I only speak in their name. They are proud to go in uniform. They have also suffered taunts byt they are strong and believe in what they are doing. Unfortunately not everyone is as bold and has the stamina to deal with this phenomenon, so it must be addressed and taken care of."