Editors of Extremist Jewish Website to Be Charged With Incitement

Announcement of pending indictment comes as state prosecutor delays decision to charge far-right rabbi in another case of alleged incitement to violence.

The State Prosecutor's Office said Wednesday it intends to charge the editors of the website of the far-right Hakol Hayehudi (The Jewish Voice) with incitement to violence and racism.

The prosecution said the decision to indict Hakol Hayehudi editors Avraham Binyamin and Joshua Hess, subject to a hearing, was approved by Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein.

The prosecution’s statement was made in a High Court of Justice hearing on a petition demanding to indict the authors of the book Torat Ha’Melech (the King’s Torah) for incitement and racism.

In the period between August 2009 and February 2012, the website published statements allegedly calling for racism and violence against Israeli and Palestinian Arabs. The statements were also published on flyers distributed in public places under the title “Hakol Hayehudi.”

One of the inciting invectives, which still appears online, is an essay entitled “mutual guarantee” by Rabbi Yosef Elitzur, who co-wrote The King’s Bible with Rabbi Yitzhak Shapira.

In May 2012, the prosecution decided to close the criminal case against the book’s authors and two of the four rabbis who had sanctioned it, Dov Lior and Yitzhak Ginsburg, due to lack of evidence. The book, published in 2009, is described by its writers as “a halakhic discussion on conditions in which killing a goy is permitted.”

In February last year, the Israel Religious Action Center petitioned the High Court of Justice against Weinstein’s decision not to indict the book’s authors. The petition asks the court to compel Weinstein and the justice minister to charge the book’s authors and publishers with incitement.

Attorney Yuval Roitman of the State Prosecution said at Wednesday's hearing that a final decision to indict Elitzur has not been made yet.

Roitman tried to justify Weinsten’s decision to close the case against the book’s authors and the rabbis who sanctioned it and even defended it.

“The picture rising from the book is different from certain quotes my colleagues have cited and the book must be read in full to understand the general context it was written in,” he said.

“It’s difficult to contradict the context as part of the criminal procedure…the book in general does not speak in a concrete, tangible way. Nor does it deal in a concrete, tangible way with the Palestinian public or the Israeli Palestinian conflict. We must look at it in a criminal context…when I read the book I cannot deny the possibility that it means to conduct a halakhic clarification without saying explicitly that gentiles equal Arabs. Before issuing an indictment we must consider whether the book establishes this statement above all reasonable doubt,” he said.

Justice Edna Arbel replied, however, “the test is not what the writer meant but what the reader understands.”

Amos Biderman
Olivier Fitoussi