Detention of Ovadia Yosef's Son Raises Ire on Right

Protesters sing extreme Neturei Karta anthem at rally in support of Rabbi Ya'akov Yosef.

In the heat of the day, a large group of people gathered yesterday at a rally in support of Rabbi Ya'akov Yosef, on Shmuel Hanavi Street in Jerusalem, singing in unison: "We do not believe in the rule of the infidels, we take no heed of their laws."

Not everyone in the group knew the words of the anthem of the Neturei Karta sect, since half were right-wing and young, coming from yeshivas in Jerusalem and the settlements, and the other half were ultra-Orthodox who lived nearby and were curious. But they tried to join in.

The choice of the anti-Zionist anthem during the demonstration was surprising for two reasons: because the demonstration included members of the right whose representatives sit in the Knesset, and also because the very last people to go along with such sentiments, which have become fashionable lately, have been the Haredi rivals of Rabbi Ya'akov Yosef, the hero of the event.

It should be recalled that the parents of school girls affiliated with the Ashkenazi Hasidic stream in Immanuel, who were sent to jail a year ago for contempt of the Supreme Court, entered Ma'asiyahu Prison humming the anthem while launching verbal assaults on Yosef.

Yosef ordered his supporters to petition the Supreme Court against independent Haredi education, and found himself in trouble with the Haredi community, including his own father, Shas spiritual leader, Rabbi Ovadia Yosef.

Then Ya'akov Yosef was accused of betraying the supremacy of the Torah over Israeli law, and yesterday, ironically, he and hundreds of his supporters repeated the same slogans which his Ashkenazi Hasidic rivals used: "The Torah is superior to the law," the protesters declared.

Yosef was detained yesterday in the early morning when attending the monthly prayers at the grave of Shimon Hatzadik in East Jerusalem. .

The two rabbis, like the authors, refused to come to the police station and respond to suspicions of incitement against them. Yosef was brought for questioning at police headquarters and released less than half an hour later yesterday.

He said that he did not respond to the questions of the police, and only told them: "Why are you acting crazy? Why are you kidnapping rabbis?"

The rabbi appeared to be embarrassed by the rally around his home. He made do with a short blessing over those who came to support him, and invited them to the large demonstration by the right that is expected to take place today, to protest the state prosecutor's decision to detain and question him and Lior.

Yesterday's rally seemed to crown Yosef as a new member of the right's most senior rabbinical leadership. Demonstrators called him "our teacher and rabbi," and "the tzadik [righteous person] of our generation."

MK Yaakov Katz of the National Union called Yosef "the first among rabbis." The MK added that the arrest of right-wing rabbis has occurred "not because we are weak, but because we are strong, we are increasing in numbers, getting bigger, we are settling - we are settlers."

He promised that the day will come when "we run the state, we will make the laws ... We will investigate and we will see then who will be put on trial ... We will settle scores with the help of God."