Knesset members attacked Kiryat Arba Chief Rabbi Dov Lior Thursday for suggesting that the kidnapping of yeshiva students Eyal Yifrah, Gil-Ad Shaer and Naftali Fraenkel was divine punishment for anti-religious legislation.
Lior published a letter Wednesday saying that the abductions were the result of the erosion of the family unit, a lack of observance of the commandments, and a proposed conversion bill.
MK Amram Mitzna (Hatnua) condemned Lior’s statements and compared the rabbi to Balad MK Haneen Zoabi, who said Tuesday that the kidnappers of the teens were not terrorists.
“There is a connection between the extremists on our side and the other side,” Mitzna said. “Zoabi excuses the kidnapping for nationalist reasons and the rabbi for religious reasons. If God wanted to punish the blasphemers why would Orthodox teens be kidnapped? It is so absurd it screams to the sky.”
Yesh Atid MK Dov Lipman, who is an Orthodox rabbi, called on all political leaders to reject Lior’s statements and distance themselves from them.
Lior is a rabbi in Bayit Yehudi’s Tekuma faction, but party officials noted that he supports Strong Israel, a more right-wing party that did not cross the electoral threshold in last year’s election, and that he frequently criticizes Bayit Yehudi.
“As a religious and believing person, the first thing we know is that we don’t understand the ways of God, and for any rabbi to say otherwise is wrong,” Lipman said. “We must follow a path of unity, not incitement.”
Lior’s letter drew the ire of former Shin Bet (Israel Security Agency) chief Yuval Diskin, who has been far more vocal in recent days since the expiration of the mandatory “cooling- off period” for former senior defense chiefs – who must wait three years before officially entering politics.
“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, 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.”
Torat Hamelech is a book written by prominent settler rabbis who advocate killing innocent non-Jews in certain situations during peacetime and war, and which was endorsed by Lior.