Politicians decry attack against Rabbi Stav

Liberman calls on religious leaders to publicly condemn attack against chief Ashkenazi rabbi candidate David Stav.

June 18, 2013 00:57
3 minute read.
Rabbi David Stav at the Knesset

Rabbi David Stav speaking at Knesset 370. (photo credit: Avi Friedman)


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A series of public figures denounced on Monday an attack against chief Ashkenazi rabbi candidate David Stav, calling for an end to incitement against him and for haredi leaders to calm tensions in the fierce battle over the Chief Rabbinate.

Stav was subject to physical and verbal intimidation on Sunday night while attending the wedding of the daughter of Shmuel Rabinowitz, the rabbi of the Western Wall, in Bnei Brak.

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Stav said that during the proceedings, several youths shoved him and attempted to hit him and pour water on him. As he left the wedding, the youths also called him a “wicked man” and a “sheigetz,” a derogatory Yiddish term for a non-Jewish male.

The incident follows comments made by Shas spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef on Saturday night, who called Stav “an evil man” and said that he was “dangerous to Judaism and the Torah” and unfit to be chief rabbi.

During a Bayit Yehudi Knesset faction meeting, Religious Services Minister Naftali Bennett, who heads the party, called on the haredi parties and rabbinic leadership to stop the “unbridled” attacks on national- religious leaders.

“This is not the first time such unrestrained attacks have happened and it needs to be stopped,” said Bennett, possibly referring to Yosef’s comments during the recent election campaign calling Bayit Yehudi “the home of non-Jews.”

“There are red lines which should not be crossed, but they were crossed last week. I call on everyone to calm things down.

There will be elections, someone will get elected and we’ll do it in a dignified and responsible manner,” continued Bennett.

In an interview with haredi website Kikar Hashabbat on Monday, Shas chairman Arye Deri said the party stands behind every word of Yosef, the first time anyone from the party has commented on the brouhaha.

Deri said that verbal attacks made by national-religious rabbis hostile to Stav’s candidacy had been ignored by the media and that “PR agents and lobbyists for Stav” had taken the opportunity to exploit Yosef’s comments to promote Stav’s candidacy.

Prominent national-religious figure Rabbi Benny Lau, who has closely studied Yosef’s rabbinic reign, said on Monday at a conference held by the Israel Democracy Institute that it was time for Israeli public figures to stop meeting with the Shas leader.

“This is the time to make a public call for Israel’s political leadership – from the president and the prime minister and on down – to stop going to pay homage to him. It’s a humiliation and we need to protest this as loudly as possible.”

Yisrael Beytenu chairman MK Avigdor Liberman also had strong words to say about the incident and called on haredi and religious leaders to publicly condemn the attack on Stav.

“We expect from the religious leadership, regardless of their outlook, to unambiguously condemn, and certainly not to encourage, injury to another religious leader,” Liberman said.

“It is a shame that within a political contest, especially for the Chief Rabbinate, there is someone leading the public to these dark corners. There are 70 faces to the Torah and not one of them is violence and incitement of one rabbi against another,” he said in an apparent reference to Yosef.

Hatnua MK Elazar Stern took to Facebook to accuse a sector of the national-religious rabbinic leadership for the increasingly bitter attacks on Stav.

Stern was referring to the drawn-out and fierce competition between several nationalreligious rabbis for the endorsement of the Bayit Yehudi party for Ashkenazi chief rabbi. During that process, Stav was subject to several verbal attacks from conservative rabbis in the national-religious movement.

“I turn to the rabbis and say...do not wash your hands of this. You have a not insignificant part in the ‘shedding of Rabbi Stav’s blood’ and negating his standing as a rabbi and a Torah scholar,” Stern wrote.

“When you open up a violent discourse, you lose control of its borders. When you begin a discourse of violence and slander, and especially when respected rabbis do this, you can’t control it.”

Yesh Atid MK Aliza Lavie said the “tongue lashings of rabbis cannot be disconnected from the violence of the youths,” and said that the struggle over the Chief Rabbinate had “descended to dark places and seriously harms the Chief Rabbinate itself.”

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