The home of a Haredi man who works to promote the enlistment of Israel’s ultra-Orthodox Jews into the military was vandalized with slogans overnight Wednesday.
The words “Nazi,” “Murderer” and “Mengele” were spray-painted on the walls of Yossi Cohen’s residence in the predominantly Haredi town of Bnei Brak, in an apparent protest over his efforts to integrate community members into the military, Army Radio reported Thursday.
Police have launched an investigation into the incident.
The issue of ultra-Orthodox enlistment in the army has long been a point of contention in the Haredi community, as many perceive the IDF as a threat to their way of life and wish to prevent young members of the community from enlisting.
According to the report, State Prosecutor Shai Nitzan earlier Thursday announced the establishment of a new committee aimed at combating an uptick in harassment against ultra-Orthodox soldiers.
Recent legislation expanding Israel’s universal enlistment to incorporate more ultra-Orthodox draftees has been met with protests by the religious community, including the harassment of Haredi soldiers in uniform.
Leaders of the ultra-Orthodox community have come out against the new draft legislation, and have actively campaigned against it.
Ultra-Orthodox recruits often say they experience regular harassment and violence by fellow community members, and many choose to keep their service under wraps to protect themselves and their families.
Last month, a series of pamphlets exposing the personal details of Haredi men serving in the IDF were distributed in ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods, as part of an organized campaign against attempts to “corrupt their community” by advancing a universal draft.
Under the title “Soul Hunters,” the leaflets focused on men in recruitment positions, describing them as “professional missionaries under Haredi guise” who “sold their souls to the devil for financial gain.”
The Yesh Atid party, led by former finance minister Yair Lapid, made the enlistment of the ultra-Orthodox — or, as the party calls it, “sharing the burden” — a central point in its campaign and, in the previous government, advanced a bill that mandated Haredi service in the military with criminal penalties for those who refused.
The law passed in the Knesset last March, but new elections earlier this year and coalition agreements with the ultra-Orthodox parties put the bill as such into a deep freeze.
Amendments to the legislation, as negotiated in the coalition deals with the ruling Likud, will include the abolition of the penalty clause for those who refuse service.
Last September, government officials said ultra-Orthodox recruitment was up 39 percent. The 2013-2014 conscription cycle saw 1,972 ultra-Orthodox youth enlist in the IDF, up from 1,416 in 2012-2013 and from 1,327 in 2011-2012, according to the committee tasked with monitoring the implementation of the law.