June 30: Questioning Lior

The tawdry and unwarranted arrest of Rabbi Dov Lior for questioning over his having endorsed a book alleged to contain incitement is absolutely shocking!

Questioning Lior
Sir, – Regarding “Rabbi’s detention for allegedly endorsing book that incites violence sparks riots,” June 28), the fragility of Israeli democracy that violates the principle of free speech scares me much more than any alleged incitement to violence ever will.
The tawdry and unwarranted arrest of Rabbi Dov Lior for questioning over his having endorsed a book alleged to contain such incitement is absolutely shocking!
HAIM M. LERNER Ganei Tikva
Sir, – I have the following question: Did the police interrogate Prof. Zeev Sternhell after he published a paper in which he advised Arab terrorists to target settlers outside the Green Line? No, I believe he was awarded the Israel Prize.
Contrary to popular belief, Yitzhak Shapira’s book, which gives a Jew permission to preemptively kill gentiles if he feels threatened, was not intended to support random acts of violence against gentiles. It was intended to contrast the military tactics used in recent operations – where Jewish soldiers’ lives were excessively endangered for the sake of minimizing enemy civilian casualties – with halachic guidelines according to which these tactics would be seen as immoral.
In the final analysis, since military strategists do not consider halachic considerations and Jewish values, the book did more damage than good, as it fell prey to journalists who are only too happy to sully the image of national-religious rabbis.
Sir, – Your readers, no doubt, will have varying opinions as to whether or not Rabbi Dov Lior’s endorsement of Torat Hamelekh constituted incitement to violence.
What is clear, though, is that the halachic discussion of whether or not violence against non-Jews to save Jews is admissible is in the realm of the theoretical. Direct orders to violently attack a specific, non-violent group at a specific moment just for the purpose of teaching them a lesson is, in my mind and in the mind of any reasonable person, a crime well within the definition of incitement to violence, and not just theoretical.
I recall the well-publicized comments of Southern District police chief “Niso” Shacham who explicitly ordered Border Police commander Roni Ohana to be brutal with the anti-disengagement demonstrators at Kfar Maimon in July 2005. These were specific tactical orders inciting violence by the police against what in hindsight were very peaceful demonstrators.
Shacham’s orders were not theoretical. The incitement was there. Yet there was never an investigation by the National Serious and International Crimes Unit, and while Shacham was relieved of his command he was ultimately moved laterally and promoted in the Jerusalem District.
The Crimes unit has the evidence – if it wants it – of the Channel 10 News crew that filmed Shacham’s diatribe up close.
In Israel there appears to be a double standard in applying the law, depending on the political winds. It seems that rightists, the religious and settlers are frequently subjected to a harsher standard. This raises serious questions about justice that the “liberal” Left conveniently ignores.
Lynches and news
Sir, – I was horrified to read about the recent lynch attack against a delivery driver in Jerusalem. It’s scary to think that one wrong turn in our capital could mean death for any one of us.
What’s even scarier is the fact that this headline-making news was put on Page 10 of your newspaper, when it should have been front-page news. Is this attempted murder of a Jew by Arabs (it was very likely to have been racially motivated, according to the shouts heard at the scene) not worthy enough?
Will the rest of the world ever hear about this attack? Had it been the other way around it would be on the front page of every newspaper in the world.
Positive reflection
Sir, – I don’t always agree with the opinions expressed by my esteemed, long-time friend David Newman (“A fine appointment,” Borderline Views, June 28), but this time I do, heartily.
Often, a person can be evaluated by assessing his children, their behavior, their attributes and their personalities. I had the honor of being able to do this when a young high school graduate by the name of Judah Taub, during his first year at the Yeshivat Hesder in Kiryat Shmonah, was discovered by chance to have an extraordinary gift in the art of public speaking – in English.
The first-born son of Daniel and Zehava Taub, he was very modest about his achievements as a teenager who, in spite of his very young age, represented the State of Israel at various international forums.
The discovery of his roots clarified everything – a real “chip off the old block.”
Best of luck to you, Daniel.
LINDA STERN Kiryat Shmonah
Sir, – Daniel Taub is indeed an outstanding choice. However, when David Newman writes “Taub should be able to refocus the debate on what Israel is all about, rather than having to devote his tenure to defending the country against its detractors,” Newman is wholly out of touch with the difficulties Israel faces in today’s UK.
Anti-Zionism is normative and mainstream. Israel is attacked ubiquitously, quotidianly and from all sides for its treatment of Palestinians and for expanding settlements. No amount of resplendent rhetoric by Prime Minister Netanyahu has managed to change that, nor will it.
Having witnessed Daniel Taub’s brilliance in debating these issues with the best since he was an undergraduate at Oxford, and aware of both his deep knowledge and experience in international law and the peace process, and the devotion he inspires in others, it is clear to those of us who know him well that he is ideal for the job.
Same from afar
Sir, – For a non-Jew and distant observer, the Middle East seems an exercise in madness.
I am not a religious man and the older I get the more alienated I feel from organized religion. The Middle East has certainly contributed to that sense of detachment. I simply cannot understand how people (Jews, Muslims and Christians) who share a common heritage, a history of shared heroes, prophets, land and, indeed, villains, a history whose religious texts teach tolerance and compassion, can be so filled with lethal hatred.
I have long supported Israel, perhaps out of some deep-seated sense of collective guilt, or perhaps simply because I believe the Jewish people need a home. I really do not know.
Certainly, I cannot understand the psychological torment of the daily life of an Israeli living cheek-to-jowl with people who deny his or her right to exist. But neither can I imagine the frustrations of a Palestinian who is living in a refugee camp, seemingly abandoned by the world to a uncertain fate. It seems to me nothing about either situation is conducive to social health.
What I hear half a world away is most puzzling. I listen to politicians from both camps and hear essentially the same propaganda and policies writ over and over. Nothing seems to change. Positions seem to be entrenched and neither side appears willing to let go of deeply ingrained mistrusts and hatreds.
I paraphrase Albert Einstein in observing that the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.
It does seem to me that until someone changes the face of this conflict, the Middle East, and the fate of Israelis and Palestinians alike, will continue to spiral out of control.
Kitimat, Canada