'Anti-draft radicals look like us, but we're nothing like them'

Haredi MK blasts Yerushalmi Faction over anti-draft protests, says most haredi Jews opposed to radical group's behavior.

David Rosenberg ,

MK Moshe Gafni (center)
MK Moshe Gafni (center)

A senior haredi MK blasted anti-draft demonstrators from the Yerushalmi Faction on Sunday, telling Knesset security officials that protesters who held an illegal demonstration outside of the Knesset last week did not represent the haredi community at large.

In recent weeks, members of the Yerushalmi Faction, led by Rabbi Shmuel Auerbach, have held a series of unauthorized demonstrations and blocked roads across the country to protest the drafting of yeshiva students into the IDF.

While most haredi Jews obtain deferments from the IDF as yeshiva students, the Yerushalmi Faction has encouraged its supporters not to cooperate with draft officials in any capacity.

Last week, the Yerushalmi Faction held a protest outside of the Knesset, leading to clashes with members of the Knesset Guard.

Following the incident, United Torah Judaism MKs Moshe Gafni and Uri Maklev penned a letter to members of the Knesset Guard, distancing the demonstrators from the haredi community and condemning their actions.

“Yesterday, we heard that some young men dressed in haredi garb clashed with the Knesset Guard, and behaved in a most embarrassing manner. We want to make it clear that this group [the Yerushalmi Faction] does not represent the general haredi population or us as representatives of the [haredi] public, and we strongly condemn that behavior.”

In addition to Gafni and Maklev, the letter was signed by a number of MKs from the Shas and UTJ parties.

On Sunday, Gafni, met with representatives of the Knesset Guard, Behadrei Haredim reported, and reiterated that the Yerushalmi Faction represents only a minority of Israeli haredim.

“They look like us,” Gafni said, “but they simply are not us, and we’re not them.”