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Israeli police attack anti-Zionist Jews for exercising their free speech

On Thursday, August 10, 2017 in the evening, in the anti-Zionist Orthodox Jerusalem neighborhood of Meah Shearim, police officers and undercover detectives brutally arrested several religious anti-Zionist Jews. The goal of the police is to arrest those who shout the insult “chardak” at religious soldiers who walk through their neighborhood.

The practice of publicly shaming religious soldiers was begun by community members three years ago in response to the passing of the draft law in the Knesset in 2014, and the subsequent efforts by the government to recruit as many religious soldiers as possible. The government hopes to make army service for the traditionally Orthodox community socially acceptable.

The religious community has always been staunchly opposed to joining the Israeli army, following the fundamental principle of Jewish belief that Jews are in exile and are forbidden to have their own state or army, or to wage wars against any nation. This is in addition to their objection to the ongoing immoral behavior in the Israeli army. From that viewpoint, the Israeli government’s effort to make the draft a “normal” part of Orthodox life is a dangerous threat to basic Judaism.

The community’s response was to make anyone wearing a soldier’s uniform together with Orthodox trappings such as beards, sidelocks and yarmulkes as unwelcome as possible among religious Jews. Any such person venturing into the Orthodox neighborhood is likely to be hear people chanting after him and calling him the epithet “chardak” (a contraction of the words “chareidi kal daas”, meaning a religious person who has abandoned Torah principles, and similar in sound to the Hebrew word “chaidak”, meaning an insect). It is important to note that the campaign against the religious soldiers is strictly non-violent.

This campaign produced immediate results. Those religious soldiers who wished to enter traditional neighborhoods like Meah Shearim were careful to change into civilian clothes, or at least covered their uniforms with a long coat. They were even encouraged to do so by the military authorities.

However, in recent months the military and the police decided to launch a counteroffensive, and put a stop to this successful campaign of verbal intimidation, using the only method they know: violence and oppression. The tactic is simple: one or more police detectives disguise themselves as religious soldiers and enter a neighborhood such as Meah Shearim, Beis Shemesh or Bnei Brak. The “religious soldiers” pretend to be lost, as if they entered the religious neighborhood accidentally.

Meanwhile, several more detectives, dressed as civilians, some in religious garb to make them inconspicuous, walk nearby, while several more undercover officers in parked civilian cars wait for the action to begin. As soon as someone yells an insult at the “soldiers”, the undercover police spring out of hiding to attack and arrest the insulter (in many cases a young child) who dared to speak against the mighty Israeli army. Of course, since speech alone is not a crime, the police usually claim that the suspect physically attacked the soldier.

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