Deputy Defense Minister Ben-Dahan disappointed in haredi leaders

Deputy DM condemns tacit encouragement by haredi leaders to incite against haredi soldiers. 'No sanction in the world for such acts'

Hezki Baruch ,

Incitement campaign against haredi soldiers
Incitement campaign against haredi soldiers
Arutz Sheva

Deputy Defense Minister Eli ben Dahan appeared this morning (Thursday) before a Foreign Affairs and Security subcommittee headed by MK Amir Ohana regarding dealing with incitement against haredi soldiers.

During his remarks, the Deputy Minister revealed that there will soon be a discussion with his participation in the Attorney General's office: "One of the most difficult problems is that our freedom of expression has become freedom of incitement, as regards haredi soldiers. The awesome and expansive umbrella of freedom of expression that the Justice Department has used until today is quite wide, perhaps too wide."

He said "Pertaining to my request, a date has been set for a hearing with the Attorney General to examine whether we have not been too lenient with freedom of expression and could have stopped incendiary statements. Today everyone knows that with haredi incitement today, statements became deeds. I strongly hope the Attorney General will decide to curtail freedom of speech on this issue because these are not abstract statements but rather an attack on haredi soldiers and those who recruit them."

The Deputy Minister further condemned the tacit approval of violence that haredi leaders grant to incitement: "I tell you as a rabbi in Israel - there is no sanction in the world for such deeds. Whoever says he is acting on behalf of the Torah, is acting against it. It does not sanctify G-d's Name, it is a desecration of G-d's Name. All the statements of the rabbis - the biggest ones you can find - that they use to define this as a sanctification - it is a desecration of G-d. There is no clause in the Code of Jewish Law, no sub-section and no rabbinic authority that would rule to allow harming the property of another person, to humiliate people, or to cause one to blanch from public embarrassment. Better that a person throw himself into a fiery furnace than to humiliate another in public.

"As someone to whom Torah in Israel is very dear, I am surprised and disappointed in the way Haredi leaders, rabbis and community leaders lend their silence and encourage these phenomena," he added.

The deputy minister noted that he arranges follow-up meetings on the handling of haredi soldier's complaints submitted to the police: "One of the first things I did was to set up a special team comprised of army, police, and prosecution for dealing with complaints of haredi soldiers about incitement. We meet in my office and we follow each complaint. The Police Chief clearly said that he will give priority to these complaints and they will be addressed at the highest levels. In recent weeks the police have taken special measures and initiated actions to locate the inciters."

Acting Chairman of the Foreign Affairs and Defense Committee MK Moti Yogev told the hearing that "the phenomenon of harassment of haredi soldier's families in the haredi sector, accompanied by violence, is severe and dangerous and requires systemic treatment."

Yogev attacked the prosecution before the committee: "In the 'price tag' vigilante attacks you knew how to do extraordinary work on every little graffiti, and here you are nowhere to be seen when you've heard about severe incidents that have been going on for a long time."

Yogev offered practical suggestions to eradicate the phenomenon: "I call on the Defense Minister to appoint a chief haredi officer who will be assisted by another officer available to receive complaints 24 hours, for each question or complaint, from the difficulties of daily army life to complaints about harassment outside the army. The Justice Minister and the Internal Security minister should give priority to the phenomenon of harassment of haredi soldiers and bring cases of incitement and harassment to investigation and adjudication, with the inciters and the assailants. The police should increase presence and security in neighborhoods where these symptoms are prevalent. The committee needs to dialogue as much as possible with the rabbis of the haredi sector and its leaders, including politicians, in an attempt to reduce and eradicate these phenomena.

"I seek to strengthen haredi soldiers and their families and the organizations that help them. We will find additional ways to support them. I am a soldier to help in this important campaign, for the sake of national unity and security," concluded MK Yogev.