Students of Bnei Akiva's Or Etzion army preparation high school were greeted with curses and dirty diapers while visiting the ultra-Orthodox neighborhood of Mea Shearim last Thursday.
The students, who were dressed in IDF uniform, were in the midst of a tour aimed at getting to know the haredi public, but some of the neighborhood's radical residents were unhappy with the idea.
After visiting Jerusalem's prestigious Hebron Yeshiva on Thursday, as part of tours introducing them to different groups in the Israeli society, the army preparation school's students began making their way to the home of a Hasidic community leader in Mea Shearim.
In one of the neighborhood's allies, they were faced by local residents who began chanting, "Nazis, get out," and throwing garbage bags and dirty diapers at them.
According to an Or Etzion source, the students proceeded to the rebbe's home, where they received a warm welcome, while the extremists persisted in their attempts to disrupt the meeting.
An eyewitness to the incident told haredi journalist Yaki Adamker that before the visitors entered the neighborhood, they were warned not to arrive in IDF uniform as that could be seen as a provocation by local residents.
"We're in a sensitive time in which haredim are fighting against draft attempts," the man explained. He added after the incident, an argument erupted between local residents on whether the soldiers should have been referred to as "Nazis," as some of them wore skullcaps.
Soldiers' meeting with rebbe (Photo: Rabbi Micha Kletzhandler)
Rabbi Micha Kletzhandler, head of Bnei Akiva's Or Etzion Yeshiva and the army preparation high school, said in response to the incident: "We teach our students the splendid values of the Torah, the Jewish people and the Land of Israel – the same Torah that commands us to honor all people in general, and every Jew in particular.
"The Second Temple has already been destroyed by unfounded hatred," the rabbi added. "We, who are deep inside the redemption process ahead of the construction of the Third Temple with God's help, are unwilling to destroy what has already been built so far.
"Therefore, we practice unfounded love, prefer to be on the offended side rather than on the offending side, and will do everything to prevent another war between brothers. This is the main reason why our students chose not to respond to the curses and trash hurled at them."
He stressed that "the students did not escape, but continued walking proudly with their uniform like the soldiers of Joshua and King David, who knew how to combine the book and the sword in the best and most genuine manner."