Haredi soldier called ‘Nazi’ on Holocaust memorial day

Cnaan Liphshiz

(JTA) — Unidentified individuals in Israel threatened an Orthodox soldier and called him a Nazi.

The perpetrators of Thursday’s attack in Beit Shemesh near Jerusalem of the Israel Defense Forces soldier were haredi Orthodox, Jews like the victim, Army Radio reported on Friday.

Army Radio obtained footage documenting the attack, which occurred on Israel’s Holocaust and Heroism Remembrance Day, or Yom Hashoah.

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The footage shows a group of several haredi men confronting the soldier on the street and calling him a Nazi, according to Army Radio.

The soldier targeted serves in the Netzach Yehuda program, which facilitates the integration of haredi troops into the IDF’s ranks.

“These actions of a radical fringe within the haredi public cannot be tolerated,” Yonatan Barensky, a reserves colonel who used to command the Netzach Yehuda program, told Army Radio after the incident.

Barensky said “strong action” was needed against the perpetrator. He did not say whether a police complaint had been filed.

Traditionally a contentious issue, the enlistment of haredi men in military service has evoked passionate resistance in haredi circles following the passage last year of a law designed to phase out the special exemptions given out of consideration for their religious lifestyles, which some believe precludes military service.

Even before the law’s passing, the government and the IDF encouraged haredi men to enlist, including by setting up programs like Netzach Yehuda. Last year, 2,068 Haredis enlisted in the IDF, compared to 1,858 and 1,447 in 2013 and 2012 respectively.