West Bank rabbis say price tag attacks contravene Torah and ethical behavior

Group of rabbis sign petition forbidding settler attacks, declaring that price tag attacks are unethical and against Jewish faith.

Tag Mehir graffiti 370 (photo credit: Iyad Hadad, B'tselem)
Tag Mehir graffiti 370
(photo credit: Iyad Hadad, B'tselem)

A large group of rabbis, including some from the right wing of the national- religious movement, have signed a petition declaring “price-tag” attacks to be forbidden by Jewish law and unethical.

Publication of the declaration and the petition, which was initiated by the moderate national-religious rabbinical association Beit Hillel, comes after two so-called price tag attacks by suspected extremist settler activists this week, including the vandalization of a mosque in the West Bank on Tuesday night.
Among the most prominent figures who signed the petition was hard-line settler leader and chief rabbi of the Samaria district Rabbi Elyakim Levanon, along with former IDF Chief Rabbi Brig.- Gen. (res.) Avichai Rontzki, dean of the hesder yeshiva in the Itamar settlement near Nablus; renowned educator Rabbi Yoel Bin-Nun; chairman of the Tzohar rabbinical association Rabbi David Stav; and Efrat Chief Rabbi Shlomo Riskin.
More than 100 other rabbis from both inside the Green Line and in the West Bank also signed the petition, including many from the conservative wing of the national religious community and from the settlements.
The declaration begins by saying that the residents of the settlements in Judea and Samaria are “exposed to harm to themselves and their property by Arab rioters,” but that youths from the broader settlement community should not take “negative steps” despite the “troubles” facing the settlements.
“‘Price-tag’ [activities] are actions that are forbidden according to the Torah and ethics, contravene the law and cause a desecration of God’s name,” the declaration reads.
“Moreover, price-tag attacks damage the settlements in Judea and Samaria and stain the entire settler community.”
Rabbi Ronen Neuwirth, executive director of the Beit Hillel rabbinical association, said it was crucial for rabbis to speak out against such attacks, since the people perpetrating them believe they are doing so in accordance with the Torah.
“These activities stain the Torah, the religious community and especially the settlers, the vast majority of whom are law-abiding citizens,” Neuwirth told The Jerusalem Post. “It’s vital that rabbis emphasize that such attacks are against the Torah, are immoral and break the law and so they should be strongly denounced.”
Neuwirth noted that the text of the declaration went through several revisions before “the broad spectrum of rabbis” who ended up signing it were all happy with the wording, and said that some rabbis from both the Right and Left ended up not signing the petition.