At the end of July of last year, a slim and fragile man, with shackles on his hands and feet, was seen on television being dragged along by policemen. This man, who was cuffed in a way reserved for murderers, rapists and terrorists, was Rabbi Yitzhak Shapira, one of the authors of “Torat Hamelech,” (The King’s Torah).
The two main statements for which he was shackled were: “It is not forbidden to kill a gentile who violates seven religious precepts”; and “In any place where the presence of a gentile endangers the life of an Israelite, it is permitted to kill him.”
Even after Shapira was publicly humiliated, no indictment was submitted against him.
Rabbi Dov Lior wrote a rabbinic endorsement for this book.
Lior was called to the police for investigation but refused to go. Now an arrest warrant has been issued against him. In both cases, it is not clear why a summons was necessary.
The texts have been published and it is possible to submit indictments against both Shapira and Lior. This means that Shai Nitzan, the prosecutor who ordered that Rabbi Shapira be arrested and shackled, knowing that there was no rationale for an indictment, intended to incite the public against him through the well-publicized arrest and the handcuffs. Obviously this is also his intention in the case of Rabbi Lior.
The summaries by Rabbi Shapira are based on the teachings of the greatest Torah sages, including Maimonides. Even though he dug up long-buried halakhot of this kind not merely to clarify religious law, as Kahanists are trying to make out, the problem must be dealt with in a public, educational and moral sphere and must not be handled by an aggressive prosecution that is biased, and that handcuffs people and punishes them without trial.
The zealots of the prosecution who in their stupidity dispatch policemen and arrest warrants to deal with the rabbis, force moderate rabbis who hold very different views from those of Lior and Shapira to stand by them.
In the midst of the suicide bombings, a respected secular teacher urged the terrorists, for fear that they would lose the support they were entitled to, to focus their suicide bombings on the settlers. He was not even called for interrogation.
In a state like this, which later went so far as to grant the Israel Prize to this inciter and agitator, the justice system has lost every moral basis for discussing the matter of Rabbis Shapira and Lior. This same country also did not bring to trial Azmi Bishara, who, even when he belonged to the academic world, justified and encouraged terrorism.
The Supreme Court which sent Rabbi Ido Elba to jail for writing things similar to those written by Rabbi Shapira, is forbidden to judge on matters of belief and opinions. The prosecutor responsible for preventing incitement, who did not take any steps against a key left-wing activist who wrote that it was permitted to commit terrorist acts against Israelis because they are occupiers, is precluded from dealing with this sensitive subject, and is not fit to do so, nor are his superiors who support him.
The affair concerning Dr. David Bukay of Haifa University, the only academic that has ever been summoned for interrogation on suspicion of incitement (for the insults he supposedly hurled at Arab students) characterizes more than any other the selective political conduct of Nitzan. Even after all the investigations proved that the claims against Bukay were false, Nitzan continued to chase after him and instructed the police to call him in once more.
Bukay complained to the State Comptroller. “We found,” the comptroller’s office replied, “your complaint about the instructions by advocate Shai Nitzan to be justified. The ombudsman has made known the findings of the investigation to the state prosecution.” So he knows.
The Arab street in Israel is filled with written publications that include words of incitement against the Jews. From the minarets, muezzins and imams incite their people to kill the Jews who defile the al-Aqsa Mosque and desecrate the holy Islamic ground.
This incitement takes place in Galilee, the Negev, the Triangle, Wadi Ara, Jaffa and Jerusalem. However Nitzan does not pay attention to these acts of incitement.
Perhaps because the Arabs are correct. Or perhaps because he will immediately be confronted by the various civil rights organizations that will cry foul. And perhaps because the High Court of Justice, as is its wont, will come out in support of freedom of expression. And perhaps because he will no longer find favor in the eyes of his milieu.
Who knows? In the Jewish state, so it seems, the only incitement that is permitted is that against the Jews.
“Torat Hamelech” and similar publications are not a matter of concern for the prosecution. First and foremost they are a matter for the religious public, the vast majority of which − including most of the rabbis − is opposed to the application of those religious laws that were quoted by Rabbi Shapira.
But that is not sufficient. The rabbis and the public figures must have the courage to declare that religious laws of this kind must cease to exist. To these must be added also those religious laws which discriminate against women, which boycott gays, and which prevent minorities from getting equal rights. In the world of morals and values of today, it is not sufficient to bypass them − they must be declared null and void. It is only when this public gets together and decides that the validity of outdated religious laws is now totally revoked, will there be a possibility of instigating a real religious renaissance. And this is true not merely in the sphere of capital cases.
This is the theological and moral test for those who reject “Torat Hamelech.” This is one of the central challenges facing religious Zionism.
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