Jewish groups and leaders in Israel expressed their outrage on Monday following the issuing of an arrest warrant by Israel Police against Rabbi Dov Lior.
Rabbi Lior is wanted for questioning for having given his approval to the book “Torat HaMelech.” The book, which was written by Rabbi Yitzchak Shapira, discusses the legal aspects of life-and-death issues between Jews and non-Jews, especially in times of war. It speaks of the importance of a Jewish soldier saving his life or the life of a fellow Jew, even if the consequence is killing those who threaten Jewish lives.
Rabbi Shapira, who heads the Od Yosef Chai Yeshiva in the Shomron town of Yitzhar, was himself arrested over the book in July. 30 copies of his book were confiscated by police at the time.
Rabbi Lior was summoned for questioning as well over the book, which police claim incites to violence against non-Jews. He has refused to appear for questioning, leading the police to issue the arrest warrant against him.
A show of support was expressed towards the rabbi on Monday evening. MK Yaakov “Ketzaleh” Katz, chairman of the National Union party, expressed his shock over the arrest warrant and said: “The people of Israel are ashamed of [Minister of Internal Security] Aharonovitch and the police leadership whose hatred of the Torah puts them out of their minds. They would not arrest any dean of a faculty or a Muslim or Christian cleric for writing an agreement to a book. The warrant is a reminder of dark regimes in the history of Israel.”
Katz added that should Rabbi Lior be imprisoned, “the entire party will join him in prison along with the public.”
MK Aryeh Eldad said that “the arrest warrant issued against Rabbi Lior is a step up in the fight of the prosecution against freedom of expression of rabbis and authorities. Vile racist expressions against Jews are tolerated and are considered ‘free speech’. But when rabbis and authorities write an approval for a book of halakha it is considered racist and justifies persecution.”
Eldad noted that when police summon for questioning professors who preach for an attack in Israel or against serving in the IDF, only then could the same be done to rabbis. “Until then, this is political persecution,” he said.
The Legal Forum for the Land of Israel also condemned the warrant. As Director Nachi Eyal said, those who issue an arrest warrant over a consent given by a rabbi to a book are lacking a basic understanding of Israeli society, and violate every basic rule of decency and freedom of expression.
Eyal added that the reality in which lecturers and academics boycotting Israel and those who call to harm Jewish residents of Judea and Samaria are not arrested, while an arrest warrant is issued against a rabbi, is a disastrous provision regarding public confidence in law enforcement.
The Mattot Arim organization reminded of an incident in which left-wing activists distributed stickers in which they called to shoot Jewish residents of Judea and Samaria in the head, since “a good settler is a dead settler,” as they said.
Mattot Arim pointed out that a criminal complaint against the sticker was ignored by the Israeli police, and as such “there is no possibility to all of a sudden arrest and prosecute Jewish residents (not to mention rabbis) who did not even do one hundredth of what it says on that sticker.”
Rabbi Lior’s supporters have announced a demonstration in support of him in his home on Tuesday. Leaflets which were distributed throughout Israel on Monday evening read:
“The rally will be for the purpose of strengthening the rabbi and protesting the disrespect shown for the Torah. We were shocked to hear the malicious intention to arrest Rabbi Dov Lior Shlita. This is the same pursuit of the Torah which in the past has been done by the enemies of Israel, now being conducted by the State Attorney's Office under the leadership of Deputy Attorney General Shai Nitzan.”
The flyers call for everyone – “Rabbis and their students, Beit Midrash goers, housewives, craftsmen and teachers of both young and old,” to gather on Tuesday morning outside Rabbi Lior’s home for a protest of support.
“We will tell Israeli rabbis say that arresting them is the same as hurting the entire public,” say the supporters. “We will not be silent in the face of the evil coming out of the State Attorney's Office, to destroy and corrupt the faith of Israel.”