(photo credit: IDF)
Rabbi Aharon Bina, head of the Nativ Aryeh Yeshiva, has come under fire in more right-wing religious Zionist circles for expressing unqualified support for OC Home Front Command Maj.-Gen. Yair Naveh.
"One who vindicates an evil man is an abomination of God," wrote members of an organization called The Jewish Heart [Halev Hayehudi] in pashkevilim [black and white notices] posted in religious Zionist neighborhoods.
Bina told The Jerusalem Post that one of his children was harassed.
The notices and harassment were a reaction to ads sponsored by Bina that appeared in several Israeli newspapers including the right-leaning Mekor Rishon, Hatzofeh and B'Sheva.
In the ads, Bina praises Naveh for his "brave spirit and self-sacrificing for the Land of Israel, Torah and the Jewish nation in every place and in every time."
B'Sheva, which openly identifies with settlement causes, was flooded with complaints after Bina's ad was published last week.
Immanuel Shilo, editor-in-chief of B'Sheva, who stressed that he had nothing to do with the managerial decision to allow Bina's ad to run, explained the rationale behind the decision, saying: "The management felt that Rabbi Bina's opinion was within the boundaries of legitimate free expression."
Naveh has been sharply criticized by settlement leaders for issuing over 20 restraining orders against residents of Judea and Samaria, many of whom are fathers of large families. Settlers claim the restraining orders smack of "totalitarianism" and attempts at "thought control."
The IDF claims that the removal of "extremist elements" has successfully calmed the normally tense relations between settlers and Palestinians.
Naveh is also blamed for purposely using violence against settlers. Naveh commanded security forces at Amona, where settlers, who tried to prevent the destruction of illegal houses, were violently beaten by police. Settlers recently commemorated the first anniversary of the bloody conflict. For several months a few dozen of them have staged weekly demonstrations outside Naveh's house in Givat Shmuel, a residential town just east of Tel Aviv.
A group of rabbis on the fringe of religious Zionist consensus even issued a halachic opinion arguing that Naveh was a "moser" - loosely translated as a traitor who turns Jews over to the gentile enemy. According to Maimonides, a "moser" may be killed, although contemporary rabbinic courts are not allowed to decree capital punishment.
"I felt I could not just keep quiet as those Natorei Karta with knitted kippot attacked a man who has done so much for his people and for the Land of Israel," said Bina.
Bina told how his father, Rabbi Aryeh Bina, who established the prestigious Netiv Meir Yeshiva High School, led a solidarity rally for former Jerusalem mayor Teddy Kollek after he was beaten up by haredi extremists.
"I'm following in my father's footsteps," said Bina.
Naveh, a religious Zionist, is a graduate of Aryeh Bina's Netiv Meir Yeshiva High School, as are other leading IDF officers such as Maj.-Gen. Elazar Stern, the head of the Personnel Directorate, and Maj.-Gen. Gershon Hacohen, commander of the IDF College, who have served in controversial roles during and after disengagement from the Gaza Strip and northern Samaria.
In an e-mail caustically critical of Bina that reached The Jerusalem Post, the unnamed author said that Netiv Meir, which means "Path of Light," should be called "The Path of Darkness."
Rabbi Shlomo Aviner, head of Ateret Kohanim Yeshiva and a major mainstream leader of religious Zionism, came to Bina's defense.
"Undoubtedly, it is a bad thing to expel Jews from their homes," said Aviner, referring to Naveh's restraining orders. "The Land of Israel does not belong to Naveh or to the Israeli government.
"But I agree with Rabbi Bina that it is wrong to terrorize people," added Aviner. "Even if Naveh himself resorts to terrorizing settlers, that does not permit anyone to do the same to him."
Aviner said that he personally sent a supportive letter to Naveh praising him for his selfless duty to the nation.
Rabbi Yossi Pel'i, a member of Halev Hayehudi who lives in Yitzhar, said that he did not understand how Bina could support Naveh.
"After the crimes he committed at Amona, after expelling innocent people from their homes for political reasons, he should step down," he said. "It is particularly bad because Naveh wears a kippa, which makes his actions not only a crime against the Jewish people but a desecration of God's name."