An ultra-orthodox soldier was attacked in the Meah Shearim neighborhood of Jerusalem while visiting a relative on Tuesday. As he entered the area, he was greeted with a mob who chased him with sticks. The soldier, fearing for his life, managed to take shelter inside an apartment building, where he put a call into the police.
When police entered the area, the Haredi mob shouted out screams of “Nazi” and proceeded to hurl rocks down at the officers. Police reported four arrests and vowed to track down others who were involved in inciting the violence. The assailants, who belong to an extreme religious sect, promised to continue the attacks on anyone who enters the area in an army uniform.
The Haredi soldier resides in Central Israel and has only become religious in recent years. He filed a complaint with the police following the incident.
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The attack drew immediate responses from the entire politcal echelon in Israel. Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu promised to take action against “anyone who tries to threaten citizens who fulfill the obligations to the state.”
Rabbi Tzvi Klebanow, director of the Nahal Haredi program also weighed in on yesterday’s events: “The attack on the Haredi soldier that took place yesterday in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Meah Shearim is an an embarrassment to anyone who is a self respecting Jew. The thought of one Jew raising a hand against his fellow inflicts deep pain to the very core of the collective Jewish soul. This behavior is not Jewish and is not a representation of G-d fearing individuals.”
Many have pointed to the recently proposed legislature, which would force ultra-orthodox to serve in the army alongside the remainder of Israeli citizens. Some in the ultra-orthodox community have blamed the government for inciting the religious community and breaking the status quo. However, Rabbi Klebanow explains that this does not justify the use of violence: “Even if one is in total disagreement with government policy, he must never take out his anger on any individual, how much more so, on our own youth.
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Rabbi Klebanow insisted that these events should be seen in light of the historical events which took place this time of year: “during this period of time known as The Nine Days, days that lead up to the 9th of Av when both Temples were destroyed, the Jewish people contemplate and relive the destruction of the Holy Temple. This fact that this incident can take place in our times, is a sign that the baseless hatred that was the very cause of the destruction has yet to be corrected.”