Rabbis Yaakov Yosef and Dov Lior at rally 311.
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Hundreds of men and a few women held a protest on Monday night behind the
Supreme Court building over the recent arrests of Rabbi Dov Lior and Rabbi
Ya’acov Yosef, who had refused to comply with police summons to report for
questioning over their rabbinic endorsement of the Torat Hamelech
The demonstration itself passed peacefully, but after it ended some of the participants tried to block the nearby Sderot Herzl. Police used
force and water cannons to disperse the demonstrators, and arrested four adults
and a minor.
Lior stressed the importance of showing support for Torah
and its independence, and thanked “those who indirectly contributed by awakening
the public, to make it aware of the dignity of Torah.
express their opinion and not fear someone won’t like it,” he
protest Rabbi Yosef arrest in Jerusalem
on Rabbi Yosef detainment: 'No one is above the law'
Yosef, who was detained on Sunday for brief questioning, said the
Talmudic principle of “the law of the state is law” (dina demalchuta dina
applies when the law treats everyone equally.
“We religious people always
tried to keep the balance [between Torah and the law]. In recent years
there are attempts to destroy this bridge and split us into two peoples. We are
one people. Secular people also like the tradition, observe
holidays. Secular people are good. There are isolated people
trying to destroy this bridge, and that is a shame,” Yosef said.
Haim Druckman, head of the Bnei Akiva Yeshivot and one of the senior leaders of
national-religious Jewry, said the claim that everyone is equal before the law
is false, since intellectuals who expressed themselves in a way that could be
perceived as incitement against settlers or the Right were not
“This is a deliberate attack against rabbis. Rabbis have
the freedom to express their opinion on Torah, even if it is
“We call on those who can put order into the State Attorney’s
Office to do so,” said Druckman, who also heads the State Conversion Authority
under the auspices of the Prime Minister’s Office.
Rabbi Zalman Melamed,
head of the Beit El Yeshiva, said, “We all agree that Israel is a country of
law, and everyone is equal before it. We came here to demand that the State Attorney’s Office observe the law.”
Melamed predicted that “the
day when committed Torah scholars will be part of the High Court and the State
Attorney’s Office is near.
“I came here to protest against the system,
the fact that freedom of expression is only afforded to one side of the
political map,” said Pinchas, 50, a Jerusalem resident.
As for the
content of the book at issue, Pinchas said Torat Hamelech “contains halachic
issues that can be taken out of context. There is no appeal to take Arabs and
throw them away in the book. If there was, I’d be one of those protesting
against it. You also have to understand what a rabbinic endorsement for a book
is – it’s not as if the rabbi actually reads every letter of it.
are people who are trying to heat things up,” he continued, in a reference to
the State Attorney’s Office.
“Things are getting worse with how we, the
Right, are being treated, probably because religion is becoming more present in
the public, and religious people are taking more and more senior public
But despite the general feeling of discontent on the Right
that Pinchas described, not many chose to attend the protest. Organizers said
ahead of the event that more than 100 buses had been chartered, but the meager
turnout didn’t reflect even a quarter of that.
Two young Sephardi haredi
yeshiva students stood out in the largely national-religious crowd. “We came out
of curiosity, and to respect Rabbi Yosef,” the 19-year-olds who wished to remain
anonymous said. Asked why more supporters like themselves didn’t arrive, they
explained that Yosef “is too close to the national-religious and rightwing
Three young haredi men from the anti-Zionist Eda Haredit
organization watched in mild amusement as the small crowd dispersed at the end
of the demonstration. “They are confused,” said one of them who
identified himself as Shimon. “They want to keep the laws of the state, as well
as the Torah. For us, we only keep the laws of the state because the Torah tells
“They really don't know how to organize demonstrations,” Shimon
continued. “Remember how many people took to the streets during the
Emmanuel affair [over school segregation in June 2010]? Over one hundred
thousand. Look at this,” he said. “They don’t know what they want from
themselves.”Melanie Lidman contributed to this report.