PA slams Israeli ministers for plans to attend event honoring radical rabbi
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PA slams Israeli ministers for plans to attend event honoring radical rabbi

PA Foreign Ministry accuses Rafi Peretz and Bezalel Smotrich, slated to appear at award ceremony for Rabbi Yitzchak Ginsburgh, of backing terror

Adam Rasgon is the Palestinian affairs reporter at The Times of Israel

Union of Right-Wing Parties chairman Rafi Peretz (R) and National Union faction chair Bezalel Smotrich at the party's 2019 election campaign launch, March 11, 2019. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)
Union of Right-Wing Parties chairman Rafi Peretz (R) and National Union faction chair Bezalel Smotrich at the party's 2019 election campaign launch, March 11, 2019. (Yonatan Sindel/Flash90)

The Palestinian Authority Foreign Ministry lashed out on Tuesday at the planned participation of two hard-line Israeli ministers at an event later this week that will honor an extremist rabbi who has praised the Israeli settler responsible for mowing down 29 Muslim worshipers in a terror attack at Hebron’s Tomb of the Patriarchs in 1994.

Education Minister Rafi Peretz and Transportation Minister Bezalel Smotrich were scheduled to attend an annual “Torah symposium” on Thursday in the Tel Aviv suburb of Givat Shmuel, organized by a religious NGO called the Cathedra for Torah and Wisdom, according to a copy of an advertisement for the event.

Rabbi Yitzchak Ginsburgh is slated to receive a “Torah creativity” award at the daylong gathering, the advertisement indicates.

“The participation of the two Israeli ministers in the granting of a prize to ‘Ginsburgh’ is formal sponsorship of terrorism,” the PA Foreign Ministry said in a statement. “The ministry affirms that the participation of the ministers… in such a celebration is clear evidence of their support and public embrace of the extremist rabbi’s idea.”

Ginsburgh’s writings include a pamphlet that praises Hebron massacre perpetrator Baruch Goldstein. Critics have accused him of fueling attacks by extremist Jews against Palestinians and other non-Jews in Israel and the West Bank.

Ginsburgh has endorsed “The King’s Torah,” a 2009 book by firebrand rabbis Yitzhak Shapira and Yosef Elitzur. The book quotes religious sages as permitting, under certain conditions, the killing of non-Jews, including babies, “if there is a good chance they will grow up to be like their evil parents.”

The book also says the biblical commandment against murder does not necessarily apply to killing non-Jews.

Rabbi Yitzchak Ginsburgh. (Kobi Gideon/ FLASH90)

Last year, a recording was released of Ginsburgh encouraging students to carry out a “strong retaliatory act” two days after Palestinian gunmen killed Rabbi Raziel Shevach on the road near his home in the Havat Gilad outpost in the northern West Bank.

Smotrich and Peretz have both confirmed their intention to attend the event.

While Peretz’s office insisted in a statement that the minister was not involved in the selection of the honoree, Smotrich defended Ginsburgh in a tweet last month, when news of the event first broke.

“Rabbi Ginsburgh is a genius and a tremendous sage with a Torah oeuvre of incomprehensible breadth,” he said. “You don’t have to agree with him on every single thing to believe he deserves an award. God willing I will be able to attend the ceremony in order to honor and bless him.”

Last month, the event’s organizers released a flyer for the symposium, which included the Education Ministry’s logo on it. Quickly coming under fire for funding the honoring of such a controversial figure, the ministry insisted that its logo had been used without its permission.

The organizers claimed that the ministry had sponsored the event in previous years and had assumed that it would continue doing so this year as well. The government logo has since been removed from the flyers.

Israel has often accused that the Ramallah-based Palestinian leadership of inciting terrorism when officials make anti-Israel statements, and incentivizing attacks through its policy of paying security prisoners and their families and those of dead terrorists.

The PA has contended that the policy seeks to provide social welfare to Palestinian families and make up for what it describes as an unfair military justice system.

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