AG to Decide This Month on Incitement Charges Against Rabbi

Rabbi Yosef Elitzur, who teaches at the Od Yosef Chai yeshiva in Yitzhar, expressed hope that Duma arson-murderers escaped justice, called for violence against Israeli authorities.

Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit.
Mark Israel Salem

Attorney General Avichai Mendelblit is expected to decide this month whether to indict a far-right rabbi for incitement.

Rabbi Yosef Elitzur, who teaches at the Od Yosef Chai yeshiva in the West Bank settlement of Yitzhar, is suspected of incitement over several articles he has published in recent years.

In May, police questioned him under caution – meaning as someone who might be charged with a crime – about an article he had published the previous December on the website Hakol Hayehudi. The article dealt with the investigation into an arson attack that killed three members of a Palestinian family in the West Bank village of Duma in July 2015.

“I hope they don’t catch the people who carried out the action in Duma,” Elitzur wrote. “I hope this because the pursuers and persecutors aren’t honest people who truly want to fix reality.”

He also referred to the Shin Bet security service’s Jewish Department, which focuses on Jewish terror, by the name given the Jewish department of the Soviet Union’s secret police.

About 10 days ago, the prosecution submitted its response to a High Court of Justice petition demanding that Elitzur stand trial for incitement. It told the court it would give Mendelblit its recommendation on whether to file charges in another week, and that Mendelblit was expected to deal with the issue “during the month of September.”

It added that it is considering charges of both inciting to racism and inciting to violence, based on several articles Elitzur published between 2009 and 2013.

The petition was filed about a year ago by the Reform Movement’s Israel Religious Action Center and the Tag Meir organization. It specifically demanded Elitzur’s indictment over an article titled “Mutual Responsibility” that was published in 2009.

In that article, Elitzur wrote, “If Arabs are winning because of violence against Jews, then Jews, too, will win through violence against Arabs. ... We can exploit the power of women, children and the elderly to block a certain road, and during this time enable harsher action against hostile parties further down that road.”

He also called for harassing Shai Nitzan, today the state prosecutor, who at that time was the prosecution’s point man for law enforcement in the West Bank. “His peaceful life must be disrupted,” Elitzur wrote. “His picture should be disseminated under the headline ‘Jew hater,’ and his neighbors should know what a devil lives in their neighborhood.”

Finally, he recommended raiding the offices of the army’s Civil Administration in the West Bank and causing “damage and destruction.”

In the past, Elitzur won notoriety as co-author of “The King’s Torah,” a book that discussed when Jewish law permits killing a non-Jew and took a permissive approach to the question.