Meretz chief: Probe rabbis who back right-wing extremism

Zahava Gal-on says young religious radicals would not be flourishing without the support and encouragement of spiritual leaders

Meretz leader Zahava Gal-on (photo credit: Abir Sultan/Flash90/File)
Meretz leader Zahava Gal-on (photo credit: Abir Sultan/Flash90/File)

Meretz leader Zahava Gal-on called on Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein on Saturday to open an investigation into rabbis who she says are supporting right wing extremists and behavior such as that seen in what has been dubbed the “hate wedding.”

Dozens of guests at a far-right wedding earlier this month, where the murders of a Palestinian family were celebrated, will be summoned by police for questioning next week. Videos of the event screened by Israeli media in the past week show revelers dancing with rifles, knives, and firebombs, as well as torching and stabbing a photo of 18-month-old Ali Dawabsha, who was burned to death in the July 31 attack in the West Bank village of Duma.

The groom, along with others in attendance at the wedding, is reportedly friends with Jewish extremists detained in connection with the attack.

At a cultural event in Neve Monson Saturday, Gal-on said “an incited religious group, that celebrates the death of a baby their friends burned to death, cannot operate without spiritual leadership.”

She added: “An investigation is required not only against the young men, but also against the rabbis who support them and encourage acts of revenge.”

Gal-on also mentioned “The King’s Torah,” a 2009 religious text which discusses situations in which it is permissible for Jews to kill non-Jews. The book has been accused of promoting violence and racism. Gal-on said the Supreme Court’s decision not to prosecute the two rabbis who wrote the book had only emboldened right-wing extremists.

The rabbi who married the couple at the wedding has blamed the deadly firebombing of the Dawabsha home on the Shin Bet and Arabs.

In a video published by Ynet on Friday, Rabbi Daniel Stavsky, a prominent religious leader among right-wing extremist settlers, says that concerning the torching of the Dawabsha family home, “it’s known that all the actions they want to attribute to Jews — Arabs did, and even the provocateurs of the Shin Bet’s division against Jewish terrorism did it in order to incriminate [settler extremists].”

Far-right Israeli wedding-goers celebrate the killings of the Dawabsha family (screen capture: Channel 10)
Far-right Israeli wedding-goers celebrate the killings of the Dawabsha family (screen capture: Channel 10)

Israeli authorities say the firebombing was the work of Jewish terrorists, and several suspects are in custody.

“All the agencies of evil are against the Jews alone,” Stavsky says in the undated video. He echoes the charges of a suspect’s lawyer, claiming that “in the dark basements of the Shin Bet’s division they’re carrying out terrible, brutal torture against innocents as well as sexual abuses and cruel crimes against humanity.”

In contrast to Stavsky, earlier on Friday nearly 50 religious Zionist rabbis signed a letter condemning all acts of violence against Arabs and expressing support for the Shin Bet national security agency in its investigation of the fatal Duma firebombing attack.

“We condemn and reject all the detestable manifestations of violence and hatred, such as ‘price tag’ [attacks], directed against Arabs,” the 47 religious leaders wrote, referring to anti-Arab attacks and vandalism. “We rule that these actions are entirely contrary to the Torah of Israel and Jewish values.”

A former head of the Shin Bet security service said Friday that the threat posed to Israel by a terrorist “underground” of religious far-right extremists has reached unprecedented levels, worse even than in the lead-up to prime minister Yitzhak Rabin’s assassination in 1995.

Former Shin Bet chief Carmi Gillon. (Orel Cohen/FLASH90)
Former Shin Bet chief Carmi Gillon. (Orel Cohen/FLASH90)

“We’re at a worse point than before the assassination of Rabin,” said Carmi Gillon, who headed the agency when Rabin was murdered, in a Channel 2 interview on Friday night.

Gillon said that far-right extremists such as those currently in detention for their suspected involvement in the Duma firebombing in July are “a professional underground in every regard.”

read more:
Never miss breaking news on Israel
Get notifications to stay updated
You're subscribed