itamar - Daniel Bar-On - September 21 2011
The West Bank settlement of Itamar. Photo by Daniel Bar-On
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The Shin Bet security service is urging the Education Ministry to immediately halt funding to the Od Yosef Hai Yeshiva in the settlement of Yitzhar, near Nablus, saying it has received intelligence information that senior rabbis in the yeshiva are encouraging their students to attack Arabs.

The army's GOC Central Command, Maj. Gen. Avi Mizrahi, recently issued restraining orders that forbid several students affiliated with the yeshiva to enter the West Bank. This decision was based on what security sources termed well-founded suspicions that these students had been involved in attacks on Arabs, including "price tag" attacks on Arab property (so called because they seek to deter the army from razing houses in the settlements ) and the torching of mosques in nearby Palestinian villages.

The head of the yeshiva, Rabbi Yitzhak Shapira, was filmed in the past accompanying some of his students to a nearby Arab village; the students then threw stones while the rabbi looked on. Shapira is the author of the controversial work "The King's Torah," which, among other things, discusses circumstances under which Jewish law might permit the killing of non-Jews.

Od Yosef Hai is a general name for several different institutions, among them a yeshiva high school, a yeshiva gedola (post-high school yeshiva), a kollel (yeshiva for married men) and the publishing house that issued "The King's Torah," among other works.

The institute gets funding from four different line items in the state budget. In 2009, the Education Ministry gave it NIS 468,000 for the yeshiva high school and NIS 847,000 for the yeshiva gedola. The yeshiva also got money from the Social Affairs Ministry for a project to rehabilitate ultra-Orthodox drop-outs (NIS 707,000 in 2009), plus NIS 156,000 to operate a dormitory.

In January, following a complaint by the Reform Movement, the Education Ministry and the deputy state prosecutor for special assignments, Shai Nitzan, decided not to transfer funds to the yeshiva gedola.

In April, after political pressure was applied, the yeshiva received a letter saying funding would be restored, but it has not yet received the money.

The Shin Bet recommendation to withhold funds came about a month ago, Haaretz has learned. In the weeks since then, Shin Bet and Education Ministry officials have had two meetings on the matter, but the ministry has apparently not yet decided how to respond. Od Yosef Hai, for its part, is preparing to petition the High Court of Justice if its funding is halted.

The Shin Bet said it has "accumulated a lot of information about the involvement of students at Od Yosef Hai and Dorshei Yehudcha [the yeshiva high school] in illegal, subversive and violent activities against Arabs and the security forces. The information indicates that the yeshiva's rabbis and leaders are aware of some of these activities, but do not prevent them, and even enable students to take part in them."