Israel AG Against Prosecuting Authors of Book Justifying Killing of non-Jews

Authors describe book as discussion of Jewish law on the conditions under which it is permissible to kill a non-Jew in times of war and peace.

Tomer Zarchin
Tomer Zarchin
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Tomer Zarchin
Tomer Zarchin

Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein is tending toward not prosecuting the author or endorsers of the controversial book "Torat Hamelech," Haaretz has learned.

The book, written in 2009 by Rabbi Yitzhak Shapira and Rabbi Yosef Elitzur, was endorsed by two other rabbis, Yitzhak Ginzburg and Dov Lior. The authors describe it as a discussion of Jewish law on the conditions under which it is permissible to kill a non-Jew in times of war and peace.

The book's publication led to the launch of a criminal investigation against the four rabbis for incitement to racism and violence.

According to one statement in the book, "when we come upon a non-Jew who is not keeping the seven [Noahide] laws, and we kill him out of concern for the keeping of the seven laws, it is not prohibited."

Weinstein is expected to explain that he is basing his decision on limiting the use of criminal law as a tool to deal with offenses involving freedom of expression, particularly in light of the fact that the statements were made as part of a religious tract, as general statements, and the book mentions neither the word "Arab" nor the word "Palestinian."

Weinstein is also expected to base his decision on the difficulty in proving the intent of the authors or the endorsers to act violently toward Arabs.

Ethicist Prof. Asa Kasher told Haaretz on Thursday: "I respect the sensitivity the judicial system has toward freedom of expression, but I do not share the way freedom of expression is limited when there is mortal danger involved."

Kasher, together with the Reform Movement's Israel Religious Action Center and others, was among the petitioners last month to the High Court of Justice demanding that the authors and endorsers of the book be indicted. "We must learn the lessons of the murder of Yitzhak Rabin more energetically than we see here," he said.

The petitioners, who say it is clear that when the book says "non-Jews" it is referring to Arabs, are also asking the High Court to ban distribution of the book and to hold a disciplinary hearing for Lior, who is the chief rabbi of Kiryat Arba and Hebron, a state-funded position, for endorsing the book. Kasher said rabbis who write texts have students and followers who take them with the utmost seriousness and see them as directives.

"A slippery slope has been created here of discussions about death, thoughts about death and plans about death - murder. We saw this slope before Rabin's murder where the judicial and societal systems did not come to their senses in time," Kasher said.

One of the book's authors Rabbi Yitzhak ShapiraCredit: Moti Milrod



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