Haredi man and soldier at the Kotel
Haredi man and soldier at the Kotel Yonatan Sindel/Flash 90

An overwhelming majority of haredi Jews in Israel oppose the drafting of yeshiva students into the IDF, a new survey shows, while a large majority also says public campaigns to shame haredi soldiers are inappropriate.

Since the passage of the 2014 draft law, which limited deferments for full-time yeshiva students with the aim of increasing the number of haredi men inducted into the army, the subject of IDF service has become a hotly contested and polarizing issue within the haredi community.

Opponents of the law, including the Yerushalmi Faction, have held demonstrations and committed acts of civil disobedience to protest the new law.

More radical anti-Zionist elements on the fringe of the haredi community launched public shaming campaigns targeting haredi service members, dubbing them “Hardakim” – a portmanteau of the Hebrew words haredi and “haydak” (bacteria).

Others, however, see IDF service as a stepping-stone to integration into the Israeli economy and higher-paying jobs, with a number of new all-haredi units formed to allow soldiers to maintain their social norms while serving.

But according to a new poll released on Thursday, the overwhelming majority of haredi Jews in Israel are opposed to both service in the IDF and efforts to shame and harass those who do enlist.

The survey, conducted by the Seker K’Halaha polling agency, polled 410 haredi households across Israel.

Most (78.8%) say they could never agree to their son serving in the IDF, regardless of the circumstances. Only 5% of respondents said they believe their son should serve in the army, while 12% said they would accept their son serving in the IDF if he was not learning in yeshiva. The remaining roughly 4% said they could accept some alternative, non-military service to the state, including the Sherut Leumi system.

Regarding targeted campaigns of harassment and shaming against haredi soldiers, only 11% of respondents who were familiar with such efforts said they were legitimate, while 89% said such campaigns should be condemned by the haredi community.