Uproar over arrest warrant against leading settler rabbi

Tuesday, February 08, 2011 |  Ryan Jones

There was an uproar in the national religious movement in Israel Tuesday over the issuing of an arrest warrant against a prominent rabbi because he endorsed a new book that argues in favor of the right to kill non-Jewish civilians in the Land of Israel in certain war situations.

The arrest warrant was issued against Rabbi Dov Lior, chief rabbi of Hebron and the adjacent Jewish town of Kiryat Arba.

Lior had earlier given his backing to the new book “Torat HaMelech.” The book attempts to deal with a number of current political and security matters from a biblical position. One of those matters is the unavoidable killing of Palestinian civilians who are being used as human shields by terrorists.

In a number of passages, the book also appears to somewhat dehumanize non-Jews, and permit certain atrocities against them in order to teach a lesson. As such, the book has been condemned by most mainstream rabbis in the national religious movement, but they also strongly oppose arresting a leading religious figure over his opinion regarding the book.

“If Rabbi Lior is arrested, they will have to prepare another cell for me,” said Rabbi Chaim Druckman, former longtime leader of the National Religious Party.

Druckman and other rabbis slammed the fact that Rabbi Lior is being so strongly targeted, while the police ignore left-wing professors, journalists and activists who regularly suggest that Jewish settlers are sub-human and not deserving of state protection against terrorism.

On Tuesday, Rabbi Lior said that he is ready to cooperate with police if they wish to visit him at his home and ask questions about the book. However, he refused to comply with the arrest warrant. Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovich later responded to outrage by national religious political figures by saying the arrest warrant had been a mistake, but declined to say it would be rescinded.

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