Israel's Attorney General Backs Move to Cut Funding of West Bank Yeshiva Due to Violence Against Palestinians

Students at the school in the settlement of Yitzhar have torched a mosque and attacked IDF troops.

Ofra Edelman
Ofra Edelman
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Ofra Edelman
Ofra Edelman

Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein has backed the Education Ministry's decision to stop funding a yeshiva in the West Bank settlement of Yitzhar after its leaders and students took part in violence against Palestinians and the Israel Defense Forces.

Weinstein was responding to a petition by the Od Yosef Chai Shechem yeshiva appealing the ministry's decision. The response was filed Wednesday at the High Court of Justice.

According to the state, many of the yeshiva's students have taken part in the violence, backed by yeshiva rabbis. The attorney general said this conduct was inconsistent with Israel's values as a Jewish and democratic state.

The violence includes throwing stones and rolling burning tires at troops, torching and scrawling graffiti at the large mosque in Kafr Yasuf, puncturing the tires of the Samaria Brigade commander's vehicle, and attacking an IDF officer while resisting arrest.

"Public funding cannot be given to an organization that has a sizable number of students engaged in criminal activities that endanger public safety," the attorney general said. "And when key rabbis at the yeshiva protect [students] with their silence, do not speak out against such activities and sometimes actually openly condone or praise [the activities] or call for them to be carried out, this completely contradicts the values that the education system is based on."

The state said the yeshiva's leaders and rabbis were turning a blind eye to their students' violence. In some cases, they were supporting these actions and even helping them be carried out.

The attorney general said the yeshiva heads had encouraged students to break the law and supplied inciting publications such as the book "Torat Hamelech"("The King's Torah") that discusses the conditions under which, according to Jewish law, it is permissible to kill a non-Jew.

The state said the "conduct by the yeshiva's rabbis and its students and these types of activities at the institution are not keeping with educational values or Israel's values as a Jewish and democratic state, and they endanger the public's safety and security."

"In light of the serious situation that was presented to the Education Ministry's funding committee, the committee believes that it is unreasonable for the state to fund the activities of an organization that takes part in the deeds mentioned above," the state said. "Funding from the public purse is intended for organizations that carry out deserving educational activities."

It said it would have been completely unreasonable "if the committee had continued to allow funding despite the picture it had been presented with."

Border Police keeping guard as Palestinians try to extinguish fires started by settlers from the nearby Yitzhar outpost.Credit: Reuters
A sign pointing the way to the Yitzhar settlement. Vandals erased the Arabic and scribbled "revenge" instead.Credit: Hadar Cohen

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