The Shmooze

Crowds Protest the Arrest of Rabbi Who Endorsed Controversial Book

By Renee Ghert-Zand

  • Print
  • Share Share

It wasn’t rioting Palestinian protesters making headlines yesterday, but rather right-wing religious Jews opposing the arrest of Dov Lior, the chief rabbi of Kiryat Arba.

Lior was detained by police and questioned in relation to his endorsement of the controversial book “Torat Hamelech” (The King’s Torah) by Rabbi Yitzhak Shapira, which justifies the killing of non-Jews. Lior and two other prominent rabbis, Yosef Ginsburg and Yaakov Yosef, endorsed the book. Ginsburg was investigated a year ago, but Yosef and Lior had refused to cooperate with the police.

The police will hand over their evidence to the State Prosecutor’s Office, and the final determination as to whether to indict the rabbis for incitement to racism or violence will be made by Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein.

Upon hearing of Lior’s hour-long detainment, the chief rabbis of Israel, Yona Metzger and Shlomo Amar, released a statement conveying their concern about “the severe damage to the dignity of an important rabbi and rabbinic judge, one of Israel’s greatest rabbis.” However, they also warned people against protesting Lior’s questioning by police.

At least 300 angry protesters ignored the chief rabbis’ plea and blocked the main road leading to Jerusalem, as well as other streets in the capital, with burning tires. Others attempted to storm the Supreme Court building, and 17 protesters were arrested, including two who had tried to break into the Jerusalem home of deputy state prosecutor Shai Nitzan. Nitzan, who is reportedly abroad, has been given special police protection because of threats from right-wing extremists.

The right-wing Legal Forum for the Land of Israel issued a statement denouncing Lior’s detainment for questioning, and asserting that a rabbi should enjoy the same freedom of speech as a university professor. The Association for Civil Rights in Israel defended the police’s right to bring the rabbi in for questioning in regard to possible incitement, but also reminded the public about the general imperative to protect free expression.

Yigal Walt, however, was not as sanguine about the event in an op-ed he wrote for Ynet early today. He asserted that in the view of the protesters, “The Torah, as they interpret it, takes precedence over law and order. Israeli courts have sent a former president to jail and are currently hearing a case against our former prime minister, but a rabbi is above the law, we are now told.” He sees Monday’s riots as “a wake up call” for those who still believe in Jewish unity. “The State of Israel at this time is home to distinct population groups that are drawing further apart. The gap will soon become unbridgeable; some say we are already there,” he posited ominously.


Permalink | | Share | Email | Print | Filed under: Dov Lior, Incitement, Israel, Kiryat Arba, Racism, Torat Hamelech, Violence, Yaakov Yosef, Yosef Ginsburg

The Jewish Daily Forward welcomes reader comments in order to promote thoughtful discussion on issues of importance to the Jewish community. In the interest of maintaining a civil forum, The Jewish Daily Forwardrequires that all commenters be appropriately respectful toward our writers, other commenters and the subjects of the articles. Vigorous debate and reasoned critique are welcome; name-calling and personal invective are not. While we generally do not seek to edit or actively moderate comments, our spam filter prevents most links and certain key words from being posted and The Jewish Daily Forward reserves the right to remove comments for any reason.




Find us on Facebook!
  • Is pot kosher for Passover. The rabbis say no, especially for Ashkenazi Jews. And it doesn't matter if its the unofficial Pot Day of April 20.
  • A Ukrainian rabbi says he thinks the leaflets ordering Jews in restive Donetsk to 'register' were a hoax. But the disturbing story still won't die.
  • Some snacks to help you get through the second half of Passover.
  • You wouldn't think that a Soviet-Jewish immigrant would find much in common with Gabriel Garcia Marquez. But the famed novelist once helped one man find his first love. http://jd.fo/f3JiS
  • Can you relate?
  • The Forverts' "Bintel Brief" advice column ran for more than 65 years. Now it's getting a second life — as a cartoon.
  • Half of this Hillel's members believe Jesus was the Messiah.
  • Vinyl isn't just for hipsters and hippies. Israeli photographer Eilan Paz documents the most astonishing record collections from around the world:http://jd.fo/g3IyM
  • Could Spider-Man be Jewish? Andrew Garfield thinks so.
  • Most tasteless video ever? A new video shows Jesus Christ dying at Auschwitz.
  • "It’s the smell that hits me first — musty, almost sweet, emanating from the green felt that cradles each piece of silver cutlery in its own place." Only one week left to submit! Tell us the story of your family's Jewish heirloom.
  • Mazel tov to Chelsea Clinton and Marc Mezvinsky!
  • If it's true, it's pretty terrifying news.
  • “My mom went to cook at the White House and all I got was this tiny piece of leftover raspberry ganache."
  • from-cache

Would you like to receive updates about new stories?




















We will not share your e-mail address or other personal information.

Already subscribed? Manage your subscription.