Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu.
(photo credit: MARC ISRAEL SELLEM/THE JERUSALEM POST)
Controversial national religious leader and Chief Rabbi of Safed Shmuel Eliyahu has said that the wedding in which Jewish extremists were seen glorifying terrorism against Palestinians could have been staged by the Shin Bet.
Eliyahu was referring to the video broadcast last week in which national-religious men are seen dancing at a wedding and glorifying violence against Palestinians, in particular the July murders of three members of the Dawabsha family who were burned to death in a fire bomb-attack on their home in the village of Duma by suspected Jewish terrorists.
Eliyahu, one of the most influential figures in the conservative wing of the national religious sector, said that he had never seen such celebrations before and found the scenes shown of the wedding hard to believe.
“It’s simply absurd. I’ve been at dozens of weddings and I’ve never seen anything like this,” said Eliyahu on the Galei Yisrael radio station.
“I do not rule out the possibility that Avishai Raviv concocted this,” the rabbi continued, in reference to the undercover Shin Bet agent who was involved in investigating national-religious extremists during the years leading up to the assassination of prime minister Yitzhak Rabin.
Raviv posed as a member of the radical Right in the lead up to Rabin’s assassination and was in contact with Yigal Amir before he committed the assassination. Raviv was subsequently accused, along with the Shin Bet in general, by elements of the national-religious community of having orchestrated the assassination.
He was eventually put on trial for having failed to prevent the assassination, but was acquitted in 2003.
“Such things have already happened,” continued the rabbi. “Reports have been written by jurists about similar incidents which the Shin Bet has created, so why shouldn’t I think this for what’s happened here. Someone has an interest here, someone is enjoying it.”
Eliyahu also criticized the heavy media attention on the Duma attack, saying that it was out of proportion when compared to coverage of Israeli victims of Palestinian terrorist attacks, saying that “the murderers are the victims and the victims are the murderers.”
The Duma firebombing killed an 18-month-old boy and his parents.
Eliyahu has a history of rhetorical attacks against Israel’s Arab population. In 2006, he was indicted for racial incitement, but the charge was conditionally dropped when the rabbi apologized for his comments, retracted them and pledged not to make similar comments in the future.
A poll conducted for Army Radio and published on Monday showed that 78 percent of the national religious sector feel the Duma murders are being used to attack their community, while 36 percent believe “Arabs” to be behind the attack on the Dawabsha family and 79% believe the media have focused disproportionately on the issue in comparison with Palestinian terrorism.