A noted academic and a number of NGOs are petitioning the High Court to prosecute the authors of a controversial book which lays out the conditions under which Jews could kill non-Jews.

Critics claim that “Torat Hamelech,” authored by Rabbis Yitzhak Shapira and Yosef Elizur, not only contains racist invective, but incites violence and sedition.

The book, published in 2009, is intended as a compendium of Jewish religious laws on relations between Jews and non-Jews. It has come under fire for discussing circumstances which would allow the killing of non-Jews.

Prof. Asa Kasher, the author of the IDF’s ethical code of conduct, is one of the academics participating in the petition. Kasher has long spoken out about the importance of acting ethically and with dignity even during interactions with terrorists.

The book 'Torat Hamelech', the subject of a petition to the High Court (photo credit: Nati Shohat/ Flash90)

The book 'Torat Hamelech', the subject of a petition to the High Court (photo credit: Nati Shohat/ Flash90)

The Israel Religious Action Center (IRAC) of the Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism, Brit Hoshech Legaresh (the Banish the Darkness coalition), and Professor Rachel Rabin joined Kasher as petitioners in the case, which also named rabbi Dov Lior and Yitzhak Ginzberg as defendants.

Lior, the chief rabbi of Kiryat Arba, was briefly arrested in 2011 after refusing to submit to police questioning regarding his endorsement of the book. Ginzberg, the head of the Od Yosef Hai yeshiva, which the authors are affiliated with, was questioned then as well.

The authors of the text and its proponents argue that the book is a timely guide for those living in Israel today. However, such prominent rabbis as Rabbi Shalom Yosef Elyashiv and Shas’s spiritual leader, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, have condemned the work.