Police arrested and detained a right-wing rabbi Thursday morning who called on synagogue members to publicly ostracize a religious IDF officer because the officer issued restraining orders against settlement activists.
Rabbi Yisrael Ariel, head of the Temple Institute and a member of the Sanhedrin, a self-proclaimed revival of the supreme Jewish legislative body that ruled during the Temple era (prior to 70 CE), was detained by Jerusalem police for several hours after he and other rabbis issued a halachic decision [psak halacha] last summer that called on members of a synagogue to blackball one of their congregants.
Ariel directed the synagogue leaders of Ma'ale Michmash not to call to the Torah Harel Weinberg, an officer in the IDF's legal division, in protest against Weinberg's willingness to sign off on military restraining orders against settlement activists.
A police spokesman said that Jerusalem police were forced to arrest Ariel on Thursday under suspicion of incitement after he refused to appear before police investigators of his own free will on several occasions.
Ariel could not be reached for comment, but, Prof. Hillel Weiss, spokesman for the Sanhedrin, said in response that the arrest was another example of the government's campaign against rabbis' freedom of speech.
"It is part of a war on religion that is being waged by the government to expel faithful Jews and destroy their homes," said Weiss, who teaches Hebrew literature at Bar-Ilan University.
Weiss was investigated several weeks ago by the police for his part in the halachic decision against Weinberg.
Weiss said that police also questioned Ariel and himself about an additional halachic statement that was released after the bloody clash between police and settlers at Amona.
Weiss, Ariel and other rabbis connected with the Sanhedrin called on settlers who are confronted with police violence to fight back in self- defense.
In a related incident, Rabbi Shmuel Yaniv was arrested on Saturday night in Givat Shmuel for demonstrating in front of the house of OC Home Front Command Maj- Gen. Yair Naveh against the IDF policy of issuing restraining orders against settlers in Yitzhar and other settlements.
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