Rabbi Dov Lior, the controversial chief rabbi of Hebron and Kiryat Arba and head of an army-affiliated yeshiva there, contended Wednesday that one of the reasons for last week's kidnapping of three Israeli boys was the passage of what he called "anti-Jewish" legislation.
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One of the most revered rabbis among the Orthodox far-right, Lior wrote in a "letter regarding the kidnappings" on his Facebook page, "If we think that troubles come by chance and not because of our actions, the Blessed Holy One will punish us for having such thoughts.
"Unfortunately, we are witness to a severe decline in the government's dealings with the Jewish character of the state," wrote Lior. "There has been a spate of new laws whose common denominator is the undermining of the Jewish quality of our public life, including harm to the family structure, harm to the procedures for conversion according to the Torah, and an attempt to dilute the requirement that the convert observe Torah and keep the mitzvot and other laws. The goal of these laws is to blur the distinctiveness of the nation of Israel and make it like all the gentile nations."
He also placed part of the blame for last Thursday's kidnapping of Naftali Fraenkel, Eyal Yifrah and Gilad Shaar on "the constant drive to hand over parts to the land of Israel to terrorists, under the illusion that in this way we will achieve peace. With the enemies around us there was no peace, there is no peace and there will be no peace."
As the rabbi's controversial statements go, this one was quite mild. In 2011 he was questioned by police in connection with his forward to the book "Torat Hamelech," which discusses the perspective of halakha, or Jewish law, on the killing of gentiles. In 1994, following Baruch Goldstein's massacre of 29 Palestinians at prayer in Hebron's Tomb of the Patriarchs, Lior declared that Goldstein was as "holy as the martyrs who died in the Holocaust."