rabbi yaacov yosef_311.
(photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)
Rabbi Ya’acov Yosef, son of Shas spiritual leader Ovadia Yosef, turned down a police summons issued on Tuesday calling on him to come to the headquarters of the National Serious and International Crimes Unit in Lod for questioning over his alleged endorsement of the controversial Torat Hamelech (The King’s Torah) book, The Jerusalem Post has learned.
Yosef’s arrest now appears likely, although it’s unknown when this might take place. Such a move would almost certainly result in demonstrations by his followers.
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Clashes between right-wing activists and police erupted on Monday at the entrance to Jerusalem and near the Supreme Court building following the short detention and questioning that day of Kiryat Arba-Hebron Chief Rabbi Dov Lior, who also allegedly endorsed the 2009 book.
Torat Hamelech, by the rabbi of the Yitzhar settlement, Yitzhak Shapira, gives Jews permission to preemptively kill gentiles under certain conditions in wartime.
Government officials, however, were highly critical of the rabbis’ refusal to obey the summons.
“Israel is a law-abiding country. The law binds all, and all are subject to it,” Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu said in a statement issued on Tuesday. “I call on all the country’s citizens to obey the law.”
Meanwhile on Wednesday, sources close to Israel’s senior haredi rabbis made it known through Channel 2 that the attitude of Torat Hamelech was not that of the entirety of Judaism.
According to the television report, President of the Shas Council of Torah Sages Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, Rabbi Ya’acov Yosef’s father, said that “no rulings that could sound racist should be issued. The Torah respects all people, since everyone was created in God’s image. The petition against renting homes to Arabs was also uncalled for.”
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Yosef did indeed come out against the real-estate initiative that originated in Safed, but he has his own history of statements that could easily be perceived as racist – such as last year’s expression of the desire that God smite the Palestinians with the plague, a wish he eventually took back and made into a blessing.
Senior Ashkenazi-Lithuanian adjudicator Rabbi Yosef Shalom Elyashiv was also cited by Channel 2 as saying that “some don’t understand that the Jewish people don’t live only in Israel. This kind of ruling could endanger Jews abroad.” Elyashiv said similar things about the ban on renting and selling homes to non- Jews.
In a speech to new senior police officers on Wednesday, Israel Police
Insp.-Gen. Yochanan Danino addressed the issue of tension with elements
within the national-religious camp, saying, “The condition for rule of
law is equal enforcement of the law, an enforcement that does not
discriminate against anyone and does not prefer anyone. All civilians
are equal before the law. Therefore, we will continue to
carry out our missions and pursue investigations against any suspect
without shame or fear.”
Touching on the blockage of roads carried out by activists on Monday in
response to Lior’s arrest, Danino said he would not tolerate “an entire
public being forced to pay the price and wait for hours on the roads. We
won’t allow disturbances of the peace and a blocking of the roads.”
Meanwhile, in a letter sent to the Legal Forum for the Land of Israel,
the Justice Ministry said it had offered Lior the opportunity to appear
for questioning “in a respectable and quiet manner. These efforts were
met with refusal, and there was therefore no alternative but to issue an
The letter also condemned the “poisonous attacks... on the deputy state
attorney, Shai Nitzan,” who has been accused of pursuing an anti-settler
Ron Friedman and Jerusalem Post staff contributed to this report.
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