Tel Aviv Concert Hall to Host Event With Extremist Right-wing Rabbi

Yeshivah head Yitzchak Ginsburgh has justifed the Baruch Goldstein killings and endorsed a book that includes halakhic explanations of under what circumstances Jews may kill non-Jews.

A photo of Rabbi Yitzhak Ginsburg with his followers.
Eyal Warshavsky

Tel Aviv’s Charles Bronfman Auditorium (Hechal Hatarbut) is set to host an event this week featuring a talk by right-wing rabbi Yitzchak Ginsburgh. American-born Ginsburgh, who lives in Kfar Chabad, has been known for his extreme views, such as justifying the killings carried out by Baruch Goldstein in the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron in 1994, as well his endorsement of the book “Torat Hamelech” (“The King’s Torah”) which includes halakhic explanations of under what circumstances Jews may kill non-Jews.

The event is planned for Wednesday, the 19th day of the Hebrew month of Kislev, which is a major occasion for Chabad Lubavitch Hasidim, who celebrate the anniversary of the movement’s founder Rabbi Shneur Zalman of Liadi being released from a Russian prison on that day. Admission is free.

A number of well-known musicians will also perform at the event. The poster advertising the event bears a large picture of Ginsburgh, with smaller pictures of the musicians underneath. In recent years, Ginsburgh was featured at similar events on 19 Kislev in Jerusalem and the settlement of Yitzhar.

The Charles Bronfman Auditorium is owned by the Tel Aviv-Jaffa municipality. It is the biggest concert hall in the city. A city-owned corporation manages the hall.

A protest started over the weekend against holding the event in a city-owned hall.

“If we don’t wake up quickly, something terrible will happen,” warned one resident, Uri Meiselman, on Facebook, calling Ginsburgh one of the most dangerous rabbis “living among us today.” He said he would protest outside the hall if the event was not called off. “Racism will not pass,” he wrote.

Ginsburgh is the head of the Od Yosef Chai Yeshiva in Yitzhar and heads his Derech Chaim movement, which wants to replace Israeli democracy with a state based on Jewish law headed by a king. He is an expert in Jewish mysticism. In 2003, he published a book “Tzav HaSha’ah – Tipul Shoresh” (“Order of the Hour – Root Treatment”) in which he wrote that Arabs have no right to live in Israel, and blamed the Israeli left for the murder of Jews. He was indicted for incitement as a result, but the charges were withdrawn as part of an agreement under which he apologized and promised to avoid publishing incitement.

Tel Aviv city council member Mickey Gitzin (Meretz), who is also the executive director of the Israel Hofshit (Be Free Israel) NGO, which aims to influence public opinion and policy making on issues of religion and state, joined the protest. He has asked Mayor Ron Huldai and the auditorium’s CEO Dalit Koral to cancel the event.

“This is a man who clearly expressed support for a terrorist act and therefore it is not appropriate that a city institution allow him to act in its framework,” Gitzin told Haaretz.

The Tel Aviv municipality responded: “The Charles Bronfman Auditorium is managed by a joint company of the municipality and the Israel Philharmonic Orchestra. The auditorium is also rented out to guest initiatives, and the management is not involved in content apart from extreme cases in which there could be a breaking of the law. The matter will be examined.”

Chairman of activist group Tag Meir, Gadi Gvaryahu,  said the group was vehemently opposed to Ginsburgh's appearance at the event.  Referring to his support for the Goldstein murders and his endorsement of “Torat Hamelech,” he asked, “What else should a rabbi in Israel say and write in order to be revoked the right of incitement?”