A pig of an argument

From the Times of Israel:

Members of the ultra-Orthodox community in Jerusalem distributed posters this week caricaturing Haredi Jews serving in the IDF as pigs and accused them of attempting to corrupt the religious community.

The flyers were part of a campaign against the participation of ultra-Orthodox Jews in the IDF whose slogan brands religious soldiers as insects and attempts to dissuade others from the community from joining them.

Here’s the poster:


“They sent me to confuse the boys in the seminaries, and dry out their souls,” the caricature pig-soldier brags in the text of the posters, which were pasted on walls in some of the capital’s ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods earlier this week. “I fool them with slogans from the Gemara, but in effect I’m something else entirely.”

Alongside him are three ultra-Orthodox children who scoff at the soldier, who wears a black skullcap, is carrying a Talmud and has a gun over his shoulder. “Look at what ears he has,” one says, “just like a hyena.”

“I actually think it’s a fox, look at its smile,” the second says.

“I’m telling you that it’s ‘something else [i.e. a pig]‘ entirely, look at its nose and look at what it has in its pocket,” the third says. The pig-soldier has a copy of Hebrew daily Yedioth Ahronoth sticking out of his IDF uniform pants.

A young man in a black suit, presumably old enough to be drafted into the army, runs away.

Last year, a series of caricature posters widely distributed in ultra-Orthodox areas across Israel showed the IDF rounding up Haredi children in order to force them into the military; or tranquil Haredi streets being forcefully cleansed of IDF-serving traitors. “Keep this area clean!” one poster bellowed in red ink.

Why the new campaign?

According to government statistics published in September, ultra-Orthodox enlistment in the IDF is up 39 percent this year, but still below quotas enshrined in the 2013 “equal-burden” law, which mandated ultra-Orthodox participation in the army or national service.

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.

The law, which also mandates legal ramifications for individuals and yeshivas that do not comply with enlistment, has been protested heavily by the ultra-Orthodox community. Members of the ultra-Orthodox community have demonstrated against the law, and radicals have gone so far as to attack Haredi soldiers in uniform.

I venture to suggest that such a clearly defamatory (and nonsensical) campaign, as well as being about an explicit case of lashan hara as you can find, means that the Haredi hierarchy are losing the argument, know it, and are desperate.

Expect more protests. Expect more extremism. But still expect the numbers of Haredim enlisting to rise. They must not be allowed to prevent the equalization – or at least movement towards equalization – happening.