Poster inciting against hareidi soldiers
Poster inciting against hareidi soldiers צילום

Hareidi extremists have launched a fresh campaign of incitement against religious IDF soldiers, just over a month since Israel's 50-day war with Gazan terrorists, which saw more than 60 soldiers give their lives in battle.

Posters appeared in several hareidi neighborhoods over this week portraying hareidi soldiers as pigs. One particularly provocative poster shows a soldier with the face of a pig, wearing a black skullcap and peyot (sidecurls) and holding a copy of the Talmud. Hareidi children can be seen in the poster pointing and laughing at the "soldier's" appearance.

"Look what ears he has - just like a hyena!" says one. 

"No I actually think it's a fox - just look at his grin," replies another.

The third child then responds: "I'm telling you this is 'another thing'," a Talmudic expression used to describe a pig, which in Jewish tradition is seen as the most unclean animal. "Just look at his nose and look what he has in his pocket!"

Radical anti-Zionist hareidi groups have been working hard to discourage hareidim from enlisting in the IDF, particularly since the introduction of the so-called Draft Bill, which ended the decades-long exemption of hareidi yeshiva students from military service. Part of their campaign - which has also included intimidation, harassment and even assault of hareidi soldiers - has been a concerted campaign of incitement and denigration, portraying religious soldiers as impure and insincere in their religious observance.

But many mainstream hareidi rabbis have decried the campaign.

The rabbi of the Jerusalem suburb of Gilo, and a prominent arbitrator of Jewish law (halakha) in Jerusalem, Rabbi Eliyahu Schlezinger, condemned the latest posters.

"It is distressing to see our precious soldiers have not even recovered from Operation Protective Edge, and there is someone who dares to come out against them in such a blatant and virulent campaign," he said.

Rabbi Schlezinger, who is one of several candidates standing for upcoming elections to the new position of Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem, added: "We are obligated to say to these soldiers a huge thank you for their actions for the sake of the people of Israel during the last war, and in general to value them for their heroism.

"Just in this latest war we saw how close these soldiers are to our Father in Heaven, and how we, the nation of Israel, are one (united) nation."

He added that his experience in Gilo - where hareidi, religious-Zionist and secular communities live together in harmony - demonstrates how only love and tolerance can maintain national unity and strength.

He also implied that those responsible for the shocking campaign were on the fringes of hareidi society, and not representative of the vast majority within the community.

"Torah students are strong and confident enough in their position that they don't need to resort to street posters to convince them of the value of Torah study and how it protects the people of Israel," he said.