Man convicted of incitement against haredi soldier

Court convicts man who yelled derogatory slur 'Hardak' at haredi soldier in a Jerusalem synagogue.

Chaim Lev ,

The "Hardakim" campaign
The "Hardakim" campaign

Combating incitement against haredi soldiers: A court convicted a man today (Sunday) after he called "Hardak" at a haredi soldier during prayers at a synagogue in the Ezra neighborhood of Jerusalem.

Hardak is a slur used by extremist elements in the haredi community against haredi soldiers. The term is meant to signify that the soldier is a traitor to his community by being easily swayed by "evil" outside forces. The term comes from a hate campaign against haredi soldiers, in which posters and glossy pamphlets were produced portraying them as disease-spreading insects and pigs.

According to the indictment, the soldier had arrived at the synagogue wearing his IDF uniform, accompanied by his father. The accused started yelling "Hardak! Get out of here now, take off your Kippah! What are you doing praying here?" This while trying to convince the other worshippers at the synagogue to join him in harassing the soldier.

The indictment describes how several of the other people in the synagogue joined the cries of the accused. "Additional people called the plaintiff 'Hardak'. One of them walked toward him and tried to film him with a cellphone, while the plaintiff asked not to be filmed. At this time the accused and several others were walking toward the soldier.

"The accused punched the plaintiff in the chest several times and tried to grab his beret from his shoulder. The plaintiff's father tried to come to his aid, but the accused and his cohorts pushed the father away with punches. One of the people in the synagogue came to the aid of the soldier and his father, trying to fight off the accused and the others. The accused continued to try to physically assault the plaintiff until he heard that the police had been called, upon which he ran away."

Though the man was convicted for his verbal harassment, the court acquited him of physical assault charges due to claimed substantial contradictions between the accounts of the different witnesses. There were also contradictions in the testimony of the plaintiff himself, and thus the court found that it was impossible to convict the defendant of physical assault based on the evidence.