Yuval Diskin, the former head of the Israel Security Agency (Shin Bet), slammed a prominent religious-nationalist rabbi on Thursday for commenting that the kidnapping of three Israeli boys in Gush Etzion last week was divine punishment for proposed laws that seek to reform the conversion process.
Rabbi Dov Lior, the chief municipal rabbi of Kiryat Arba and Hebron and one of the most senior figures in the national religious rabbinical leadership, published a letter saying that the abductions were the result on the erosion of the sanctity of the family unit and a bill currently before the Knesset to change the conversion process.
According to Lior, recent laws in the Knesset addressing matters of religion and state were designed to “blur the uniqueness of the Jewish people and make it like the other nations, God forbid.”
“Unfortunately, we are witnesses to a severe deterioration in the approach of the government to the Jewish image of the state,” wrote Lior. "There are aggressive laws whose common denominator is the erosion of the Jewish character of our public life, for example in the harm to the family unit, injury to the conversion process [as prescribed] by the Torah, and an attempt to harm the requirement that a convert accept and fulfill the Torah and the commandments.”
Lior’s letter drew the ire of Diskin, who has been far more vocal in recent days since the mandatory “cooling-off period” for former senior defense chiefs – who must wait three years before officially entering politics – expired.
“Rabbi Dov Lior found the reason for the kidnapping,” Diskin wrote on his Twitter feed. “The Almighty is punishing us for anti-religious legislation… I’d like to ask Rabbi Lior, If that is the case, then why is it that the kidnapped boys were religiously observant?”
“Dov Lior is considered one of the most important rabbis of religious Zionism,” Diskin said in another Twitter post. “For those who need to have their memories refreshed, they could go back to the murder of former prime minister Yitzhak Rabin and Torat Hamelech (a book written by prominent settler rabbis who advocate killing innocent non-Jews in certain situations during wartime).”
“That is how a religious, ideological infrastructure that provide philosophical cover for insane people and extremists is built,” Diskin tweeted.
A bill to reform the conversion process and make it more accessible, advanced by MK Elazar Stern (Hatnua) and drafted in conjunction with moderate national religious figures, has faced withering attack from the haredi sector and the chief rabbinate, as well as conservative elements in the national religious sector and elements in the Bayit Yehudi party.
Jeremy Sharon contributed to this report.