Members of Knesset, ministers and a major US-based Orthodox Jewish organization condemned Rabbi Shalom Dov Wolpe on Thursday for his statements likening Prime Minister Ehud Olmert and other ministers to collaborators with the Nazis, saying that by

Rabbi Wolpe called Olmert a traitor, accusing him and others of aiding the "Nazi" terrorists.

law they should be executed. Rabbi Wolpe made the remarks on Tuesday, at a gathering of activists and supporters of SOS Israel, a rabbinic organization he heads, which focuses on preserving Jewish life throughout the Land of Israel.

During the meeting, Rabbi Wolpe called Olmert a traitor, accusing him and others of aiding the the modern-day "Nazis" in the Palestinian Authority by giving them weapons and releasing terrorist killers from prison. According to Israeli law, the rabbi elaborated, Olmert, Vice Premier Chaim Ramon, Foreign Minister Tzipi Livni, and others should be "hanged upon the gallows" for collaborating with and aiding "Nazi" terrorists.

"This gathering is intended to make it clear to the public that we are facing a serious danger due to the government's actions," said Rabbi Wolpe on Tuesday. "We have a government that collaborates with the enemy, the Palestinian enemy that wants to destroy Israel. The government of Israel is supplying them with money and weapons, releasing murderers.... We came to warn and discuss how we can prevent this, G-d forbid, holocaust that the government is bringing on us."

Rabbi Wolpe also said that his organization will be calling for IDF soldiers to refuse orders to remove Jews from their homes anywhere in the Land of Israel, if such orders are issued. Also addressing the emergency conference, called in response to US President George W. Bush's upcoming visit to the region, was MK Aryeh Eldad (National Union).

Rabbi Wolpe Clarifies

Rabbi Shalom Dov Wolpe said Thursday that the comments he made at the Tuesday conference were twisted and taken out of context. In calling for the execution of state

He was not calling for vigilante violence, he explained.

leaders by legal means, he was not calling for vigilante violence, he explained, but rather calling on the police to implement the law.

Rabbi Wolpe wrote that he believes violence against a fellow Jew is unacceptable, but that law enforcement has the right and responsibility to enforce the law. One of Israel's laws prohibits providing assistance to Nazis, he explained, and Muslim terrorist groups are the Nazis of our day. If the government provides terrorists with aid, he reasoned, then the government has violated the law and its members must suffer the consequences, which include the death penalty. Rabbi Wolpe emphasized that he was calling for any such punishments to be carried out in a legal manner.

'Beyond the Pale'

Minister Yaakov Edery (Kadima) called for an urgent government session to discuss Rabbi Wolpe's speech. He expressed concern that a "calamity" might occur as a result of the rabbi's comments. Members of the leftist Peace Now organization expressed outrage and called for Rabbi Wolpe to be indicted before the Supreme Court.

Opposition leader MK Binyamin Netanyahu harshly criticized Rabbi Wolpe as well, saying there is no place for violence in a democracy.

MK Chaim Oron (Meretz) went a step further. Noting that SOS Israel was founded by a sect within Chabad-Lubavitch Chassidim, of whom Rabbi Wolpe is one, Oron called for a blanket ban on all Chabad activists entering IDF bases. IDF commanders often grant Chabad volunteers access to military bases and outposts so that the Chassidim can distribute holiday-related items and perform certain religious rituals with soldiers who are interested.

The Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America (OU), the largest Orthodox Jewish umbrella organization in the United States, released a condemnatory statement Thursday. OU President Stephen J. Savitsky and Executive Vice President Rabbi Dr. Tzvi Hersh Weinreb said that Rabbi Wolpe's remarks were "beyond the pale of legitimate democratic protest and have no basis in Jewish law or hashkafa (philosophy)."

The OU leaders added the admonition, "We call upon all God-fearing Jews to act in a manner that brings praise to God, his People, Land and Torah."