Police issue arrest warrant for Rabbi Dov Lior

Kiryat Arba rabbi refuses to cooperate in probe over support of book that says gentile civilians can sometimes be killed in wartime.

February 7, 2011 22:32
3 minute read.
Police issue arrest warrant for Rabbi Dov Lior

dov lior 88. (photo credit: Courtesy)


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Police intend to arrest prominent settler leader Rabbi Dov Lior if he continues to ignore their requests to present himself for questioning about his endorsement of a book called Torat Hamelech.

Police are conducting a wide-ranging investigation into the book, written by Rabbi Yitzhak Shapira, which states that non-Jewish civilians can be killed in certain situations during wartime.

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Already last summer, police summoned Lior and Rabbi Ya’acov Yosef, son of Shas spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, to be questioned about the book.

Yosef publicly refused the summons, saying that “the attempt to prevent the rabbis of Israel from expressing their opinion, the opinion of the Torah, through intimidation and threats is a most severe act and will not succeed.”

Lior has refused to cooperate with police for the same reason. According to sources close to Lior, the police chief from the Hebron area arrived at the rabbi’s home in the Kiryat Arba settlement a few days ago to inform him that an arrest warrant had been issued against him.

He warned he would execute the warrant if Lior continued to refuse to participate willingly in their investigation, according to the sources close to the rabbi.

Lior told police he would not participate in such an act of contempt against the Bible and that he would not be part of an investigation whose aim was to silence rabbis.

A law enforcement source confirmed that Lior would be arrested if he continued to refuse to participate in the investigation, which is being led by the police’s Serious and International Crimes Unit.

Lior is the rabbi of Kiryat Arba and is one of the leading rabbinical leaders of the religious Zionist movement. The threat to arrest him has angered his followers, as well as many settler and rightwing activists.

His supporters plan to hold a demonstration on Tuesday morning in front of his Kiryat Arba home, to show that they stand behind his leadership and beliefs.

Sources close to Lior said the threat of arrest was an effort to prevent the rabbi from presenting his opinion on the Bible. By refusing to help the police, Lior was attempting to stop this persecution against the Bible and to strengthen other rabbis, the sources said.

MK Michael Ben-Ari (National Union) called the warrant “scandalous” and warned that it “crossed a red line.”

“It appears that there are those who want to bring violence and division to the nation of Israel,” he said.

Where, he wanted to know, were the leftists, who only a few days earlier had complained about censorship? The Binyamin and Samaria Citizens’ Committees said that the warrant was “a declaration of war by the prosecutors and the state against the Jewish faithful who carry its flag. This warrant spits in the face of the Jewish people. We call on all those who value the Jewish character of our nation to rise up and oppose this, even with their bodies.”

But some organizations said that Lior had erred in his support for the book.

The liberal modern Orthodox group Ne’emanei Torah Ve’avodah (The Faithful of Torah and Labor) said on Monday, “The unnecessary obstinacy at the onset of this affair not to cooperate with the law enforcement authorities leads us to places nobody wants to go.

Israel’s rabbis must respect the laws of the state like any other citizen in Israel, and this commitment bears the halachic weight of dina demalchuta dina [the law of the state is law]. Hence, not cooperating with the legal authorities not only creates the impression that some citizens are above it, but is also a halachic problem.

“At the same time, the law enforcement authorities should examine themselves to see if they are not applying double standards in the way they address statements of public Israeli figures from the Right and Left.”

Peace Now executive director Yariv Oppenheimer, meanwhile, said the warrant was “too little, too late.”

He called on police to arrest scores of rabbis who have supported racist edicts, including those who prohibited selling or renting apartments to Israeli Arabs.

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