Denizens of the predominantly ultra-Orthodox neighborhood of Mea-She’earim in Jerusalem received an unexpected boost this week when a group of self-described anarchists from a far-left organization toured the area, conversed with the local residents, and encouraged them to continue with their struggle against the Israeli government’s “oppressive” attempts to draft them into the army.
The activists distributed flyers Tuesday among locals and hung notices on neighborhood bulletin boards condemning Zionism and the State of Israel, and claiming that the plan to pass a universal draft law is undemocratic, the website Behadrei Haredim reported (Hebrew).
“We, as human beings living under the regime called ‘the State of Israel,’ recognize that the Zionist scheme carries no democratic validity,” read one sign which was styled to resemble a “pashkevil” — the Yiddish term for a poster pinned on a public bulletin board.
“We recognize that the Zionist ideal denies the equality of human beings and does so deliberately, and that the ultra-Orthodox community is among the communities harmed most by the regime.”
The banner went on to attack the government, stating that ultra-Orthodox groups now face “blatantly offensive, irrelevant and aggressive” verbal assaults by representatives of the “Zionist minority rule.”
“We wish to express solidarity and show our support of Haredi society with regard to the issue of forced recruitment into the army of Israel.” continued the sign. “Therefore, we seek to deeply dissociate ourselves with the horrible words of hatred aimed at Haredim, words such as “parasites” or “leeches.”
Residents of the ultra-Orthodox neighborhood reportedly reacted to the peculiar scene with surprise and suspicion, but welcomed the activists once their motives became clear.
The poster concluded by assuring its readers that the organization would continue to stand beside the ultra-Orthodox community.
“The way for different communities to coexistence in harmony is through joint work, and rest assured that we are prepared for it,” the sign read.
Earlier in May, a government committee tasked with resolving the issue of Haredi military service decided that ultra-Orthodox draft dodgers will be treated as criminals subject to imprisonment and not only fines as had previously been planned.
The dearth of ultra-Orthodox troops in the military has long been a thorn in secular-religious relations in Israel. In February 2012, the Supreme Court ruled that the Tal Law, which had granted sweeping exemptions from military or national service to ultra-Orthodox Israelis, was unconstitutional. Following the ruling, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu announced that the Knesset would draft a revised, more equitable law. The new coalition is working on such legislation.