State defends cutting funds for ‘price tag’ yeshiva

Attorney general says students from Yitzhar, with the support of their rabbis, engaged in violence against Palestinians, army

Stuart Winer is a breaking news editor at The Times of Israel.

Illustrative photo of a price tag attack, a form of Jewish incitement against Arabs (Issam Rimawi/Flash90)
Illustrative photo of a price tag attack, a form of Jewish incitement against Arabs (Issam Rimawi/Flash90)

The state on Wednesday backed up its decision to cut funding for a religious learning institute in the northern West Bank settlement of Yitzhar, claiming the students carried out a campaign of violent “price tag” attacks against Palestinians and security forces.

In a statement to the High Court on Wednesday, Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein responded to a petition by the yeshiva, citing information from security services that showed wide-scale involvement of students from the Od Yosef Hai yeshiva in numerous attacks, including stone-throwing, tire-burning, and arson.

Weinstein noted that some of the attacks were carried out during study hours and added that many of the rabbis at the yeshiva  either turned a blind eye to the activities of the students or actively encouraged them.

“In view of the serious picture that was presented to the Education Ministry Funding Committee, the committee determined that it was not reasonable for the state to support an organization that within its framework the aforementioned activities are carried out,” Weinstein wrote. “Support from the public funds is intended for bodies that conduct appropriate educational activities.”

In 2010 the yeshiva received NIS 1.8 million ($494,000) in funding from the Education Ministry, Walla news reported.

Weinstein said the decision to halt funding was prompted by “Torat Hamelech” (Laws of the King), a book penned by the yeshiva’s two head rabbis, Yitzhak Shapira and Yossi Elizur, which  he said, justifies attacks on innocent civilians.

Price tag” attacks, including graffiti, damage to property, and arson, were initially touted as being a response to the dismantling of illegal outposts in the West Bank but have come to include more general acts of vandalism by extremist settlers and their supporters.

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