AG to seek indictment for rabbi accused of incitement
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AG to seek indictment for rabbi accused of incitement

New investigation to be opened against ‘Torat Hamelech’ author said to praise hate crimes and permit killing gentiles

Rabbi Yosef Elizur (c) speaks with his lawyer in the Rishon Lezion court. August 2010 (Roni Schutzer/Flash90)
Rabbi Yosef Elizur (c) speaks with his lawyer in the Rishon Lezion court. August 2010 (Roni Schutzer/Flash90)

The state will reopen an investigation into a rabbi who wrote a controversial book that allegedly incites people to attack and kill Arabs

Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit is considering an indictment against Rabbi Yosef Elizur, one of the authors of “Torat Hamelech,” for inflammatory ideas expressed in that book and in subsequent articles, court officials said Monday

Responding to a petition filed by the Israel Religious Action Center (IRAC) and anti-racism group Tag Meir, Mandelblit announced that he will seek an indictment for Elizur who teaches in a yeshiva in the West Bank settlement of Yizhar.

Mandelblit’s predecessor, Yehuda Weinstein, decided not to indict “Torat Hamelech” authors Elizur and Yitzhak Shapira in 2015. This ruling was upheld after a High Court appeal, with the judges ruling it was impossible to prove a connection between the book and actual acts of violence.

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 permit the killing of non-Jews, based on a selective and controversial reading of Jewish texts.

'Torat HaMelech' book, written by Rabbis Yitzchak Shapira and Yosef Elizur. (Nati Shohat/ Flash90)
‘Torat HaMelech’ book, written by Rabbis Yitzchak Shapira and Yosef Elizur. (Nati Shohat/ Flash90)

Many saw the book as justifying violence against Palestinians and Arabs.

The book states that the prohibition of “Thou shalt not kill” does not apply to a Jew who kills a gentile. It also claims that it is permitted to kill an enemy during a state of war even if he poses no threat. In addition to a chapter on the spiritual inferiority of non-Jews the authors write that even gentile non-combatants and children may be killed in war.

Though the authors are Orthodox rabbis affiliated with the right-wing settler movement, the book and its claims were immediately rejected by the majority of mainstream Orthodox leadership.

In addition to the book, Elizur is being investigated for two articles allegedly praising so-called “price-tag” hate crimes that he wrote in May 2013, published in the far-right Yizhar-based website Hakol Hayehudi.

Orly Erez-Likhovski, head of IRAC’s legal department praised the decision to prosecute Elizur who “for years has preached racism and violence.” She claimed that “Rabbi Elizur voiced and published many inflammatory words that influenced his students, many of whom have been involved in terrorist activities against Arabs.”

Erez-Likhovski called for dealing aggressively with those who incite so that rabbis cease preaching “hatred and hostility. These days, when racist incitement and violence is a daily occurrence, we must relearn that ‘humans are precious for they were created in God’s image,’” he said.

In response, Elizur, who claimed that he had not been informed about the Attorney General’s decision, told Hakol Hayehudi that he has no time to deal with such trifling matters when the illegal West Bank settlement of Amona is about to be evacuated and destroyed.

“In these difficult times, when an entire settlement is about to be destroyed… due to the wickedness of Avichai Mandelblit which is expressed in his estrangement from his fellow Jews, there is no energy, need or purpose in responding to this trifle [of the pending indictment,” he said. “It is a shame that Avichai is involved more than a little in acts which harm the Jewish people and its Torah.

“In any event, I will continue to say loud and clear that the Torah of Israel comes before the values of the gentiles, and it is forbidden to do harm to Jews or to listen to cruel orders and laws against compassionate Jews.”

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