David BedeinThe writer is director of Israel Resource News Agency and heads the Center for Near East Policy Research, author of Genesis of the Palestinian Authority and Roadblock to Peace: How the UN Perpetuates the Arab-Israeli Conflict: UNRWA Policies Reconsidered.
Our agency received the book, Torat HaMelech [King's Torah, ed], for review, more than a year ago.
We read Torat HaMelech and concluded that this was a compendium of Rabbinical opinions about how to cope with non- Jews during a time of combat. All perspectives were presented in the book.
Shortly after our agency received the book for review , an New Israel Fund client, an organization known as the "12th of Heshvan" ( The Hebrew date for the day that Yitzhak Rabin was killed) distributed select quotations from the book, leading people to believe that the book advocates the murder of non Jews.
The organization went to the Israeli police, who confiscated all copies of the book from the publisher. Other reporters could not receive a copy of the book for review. They had to rely on the snippets that they received from the "12th of Heshvan" organization
To convince the public of their perspective, the "12th of Heshvan" organization used a radical community organizing tactic, taken from Saul Alinsky's Rules For Radicals:
Accuse the adversary of an extreme position, even if he never took that position.
The adversary falls into the trap of defending a position that he never took, instead of challenging the integrity of the temerity of the accusation.
The accusers of Torat Hamelech and maligners of its Rabbis - Rav Lior, Rav Shapiro and Rav Yosef - have by now convinced the public domain of Israel, and even the Israeli law enforcement system, that the book indeed advocates the premeditated murder of non Jews, and the book's authors have gone on the defense.
Jerusalem lawyer Asher Fink, who is organizing the campaign to arrest the authors and endorsers of the book, said to our agency that he would not accept the idea that the book, Torat HaMelech, represents a compendium of ideas on the subject. Fink was emphatic in insisting that the book represents a manual for murdering non Jews.
Fink said that he studied in a Yeshiva, and that the Rabin killing changed his perspective and has influenced his life .
It would be appropriate for journalists, academics and Rabbis to request review copies of Torat HaMelech, to decide for themselves whether the book is a compendium of opinions or a murder manual.
Meanwhile, a prominent Rabbi who had attacked the book, Torat HaMelech and its authors, in the well read publication Shabbat B'Shabbato, admitted to our agency that he never read the book.
However, as mentioned, the police have confiscated all copies from the publisher.
Meanwhile, our agency sent a letter of query to every official of the Israeli law enforcement system to ask them if they have read the book, TORAT HAMELECH.
Israel Minister of Justice Neeman's spokesman provided an angry "no comment" to the question as to whether Neeman had read the book.
Neeman , for the record, is the first Orthodox Jew and the first Talmud scholar to hold the position of Israel Minister of Justice.
Other Israeli law enforcement system officials would not responded to the question as to whether they had even read the book.
One Israeli police official said, off the record, that "selections of the book that we have received were enough to warrant a police investigation".
Yes, selections of the book.
So there you have it: A nation that prides itself in the democratic due process prosecutes the authors of a scholarly work because a political lobby hands over tendentious selections of a book to to the police.
Is there something rotten in Jerusalem?