'Incitement by rabbis going unpunished'

Reform Movement report to Knesset claims police not investigating most complaints of incitement.

Court gavel justice judge legal law 311 (photo credit: Thinkstock/Imagebank)
Court gavel justice judge legal law 311
(photo credit: Thinkstock/Imagebank)
The Reform Movement in Israel presented a report to the Knesset Lobby Against Racism on Tuesday about racial incitement by rabbinical figures.
The report claims that most complaints against rabbis accused of religious incitement are not investigated.
Out of 48 complaints filed between 2002 and 2011, the police initiated just 18 criminal investigations, the report says. The remaining complaints were either dropped prior to investigation or were left unanswered.
In only five cases were the accused rabbis put on trial, and four of these were ultimately dropped because the rabbis in question apologized for the comments.
“These rabbis are a minority among rabbis in Israel, but their number is growing and the legitimacy which they hold must spur action against them,” said Reform Movement director Anat Hoffman.
“These rabbis are undermining the foundations of Israeli democracy, fanning hatred and fear and staining Judaism with hatred of the other.”
The report cites numerous cases of rabbinic incitement, including one in which Rabbis Yitzhak and David Batzri addressed a conference in Jerusalem that was intended to prevent the establishment of a bilingual Hebrew-Arabic school in the city’s Pat neighborhood.
The rabbis said at the conference that “Arabs are a nation of donkeys, they are Satan and are evil. The question could be asked, ‘Why didn’t God make them walk on all fours like other donkeys?’ The answer is that they need to be cleaners and builders, but they need to understand that they are donkeys.”
“Presumably someone who devotes his life to sacred matters must meet high standards of ethics and morality,” Hoffman said. “But the reality is that these rabbis are not called to account for actions which would be considered a violation of the law, if they were made by any other state employee.”