After leading the campaign against the ultra-Orthodox draft into the IDF, Israel Heller has crossed over to the other side. Together with MK Sharren Haskel (Likud) he is asking for an end to the incitement against draftees and says ‘those who want to draft from the Ultra-Orthodox sector know that they will have to pay a heavy price.

Yisrael Heller knows incitement well and until recently played an active role in inciting against Ultra-Orthodox recruits to the IDF. Heller, who is no longer Ultra-Orthodox, met with MK Sharren Haskel (Likud) last week and decided to support her proposed legislation which aims to increase ultra-Orthdox recruitment into the military.

“Without resolving the issue of incitement, no draft bill will work.” He added, “The situation in the Haredi sector is that when one is drafted, he pays a heavy price,” Heller said

Until a few years ago, Heller belonged to the extremist Edah HaChareidis sect of Ultra-Orthodox Judaism, where his was one of the most creative and sharpest minds. He formulated and worked for a campaign whose name could be translated as “Irresponsible Haredim,” which aimed to shame uItra-Orthodox draftees.

Ultra-Orthodox people at the IDF enlistment station in Tel Hashomer. (Photo: Motti Kimchi)
Ultra-Orthodox people at the IDF enlistment station in Tel Hashomer. (Photo: Motti Kimchi)


Today he attests that, to his sorrow, the campaign was far more successful than anticipated, and that ultra-Orthodox soldiers feel threatened walking around ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods.

“A few years ago, a fairly massive level of enlistment started to penetrate the sector, and we started to see the soldiers in our neighborhoods,” Heller said.

“The children’s and teenager’s eyes lit up with pride and admiration upon seeing the uniforms and guns, and this increased anxiety amongst the activists who saw a great danger in this.”

After the campaign failed to influence major parts of the Hardei community, Heller and his partners decided to increase the intensity, and came up with the “Irresponsible Haredim” campaign. He said, “We reached the conclusion that we needed to raise the volume of the campaign so that the children and public at large also see something abhorrent and repulsive in them (the draftees). Unfortunately, I was a part of that, and with time, we saw our work turn the ultra-Orthodox soldier into an aberration, and in conjunction with the blatant language, it simply worked.”

MK Sharren Haaskel. Working with Heller. (Photo: Amit Shabi)
MK Sharren Haaskel. Working with Heller. (Photo: Amit Shabi)


Over a year ago, Heller left the ultra-Orthodox world, and today he lives a moderate religious lifestyle with his family. MK Haskel recently contacted him, and the two met last week, discussing the proposal that the team implementing the law – which is already in place – will take responsibility for the formulation of a program to deal with the incitement in the streets of the ultra-Orthodox sector.

“I told MK Haskel that if we, a few professionals, succeeded in raising incitement to such a level, then I’m sure there are ways to stitch public opinion back the other way.”

MK Haskel stated that “Unfortunately, we have come to a situation in which ultra-Orthodox children are afraid to dress up as soldiers for Purim, and this is a phenomenon which needs to be taken care of. This incitement is dangerous to Israeli society, and contributes to the deepening of divisions within it, and therefore this proposed law must be passed.”

As reported by Ynetnews