Defense Minister Avigdor Liberian on Friday called on law enforcement authorities to take a tougher stance against those involved in a campaign by ultra-Orthodox activists to name and shame members of the community who enlist in the army.
Earlier this week a group, calling itself “The Hunters” threatened that “from now on, every ultra-Orthodox person who joins the army will know that sooner or later their image will be published in our database.”
It appealed for help them expand their database. In the past it has collected and published names, addresses and other details of religious soldiers serving in the IDF.
“We call on the wider community to photograph any ultra-Orthodox Jew in uniform so that we can disseminate it throughout the neighborhood,” it wrote in published notices.
Israel Radio said Liberman sent a letter to Public Security Minister Gilad Erdan asking him to order a speedy police investigation into those behind the initiative. Liberman also called on Justice Minister Ayelet Shaked to instruct ministry officials to lay the groundwork for tighter penalties on those who incite against Haredi soldiers.
At the same time several ultra-Orthodox public figures tweeted images of their army service in support of those from that community who enlist, including Itzik Soudry, a former spokesperson for the ultra-Orthodox Shas party, who tweeted a picture of himself in uniform.
למפיצי תמונות החיילים החרדים אנא הוסיפו גם את התמונה שלי
צולם: כמה ימים אחרי החיול בבקו׳ם לפני כ- 23 שנים בערך pic.twitter.com/TmicxtzDyD
— איציק סודרי (@ISudri) December 27, 2016
Soudry wrote that “those who are spreading images of ultra-Orthodox soldiers, please add my picture.”
Army service is actively discouraged within many ultra-Orthodox groups and is viewed as against the Torah. Often those who two enlist choose to do so secretly so that they will not be shunned by their families or communities. To assist them the army often gives permission to wear civilian clothes when they are not on base.
Zionist Union MK Merav Michaeli, who is not religious, tweeted her support for those publicly opposed the shaming campaign. But she criticized the leaders of the ultra-Orthodox parties who did not condemn the campaign.
— Merav Michaeli (@MeravMichaeli) December 27, 2016
“[MKs Yaakov] Litzman, [Moshe] Gafni, [Aryeh] Deri and the rest who refused [to support the soldiers] will find themselves falling behind their community,” she tweeted.
Relations between the ultra-Orthodox community and the army are strained, and soldiers are often attacked verbally or even physically. Last month police were called to rescue three IDF soldiers after they were trapped inside a Jerusalem synagogue by an angry mob of ultra-Orthodox protesters.