06/29/2011, 00.00
ISRAEL

Tensions in Jerusalem as arrest of rabbi who justifies killing Gentiles leads to protests

Hundreds of demonstrators invade city roads to protest outside High Court of Justice against the arrest of Dov Lior. The religious leader, who was later released, was taken into custody for endorsing a book that authorises killing non-Jews. The case causes a major political storm as ministers level accusations against each other.
Jerusalem (AsiaNews/Agencies) – Right-wing activists staged a protest, blocking roads, against the arrest of Rabbi Dov Lior. Police moved in to clear the streets, arresting 25 protesters. Two police agents were hurt in the confrontation. The rabbi was arrested (and later released) because he had endorsed a book that justifies killing Gentiles (non-Jews).

On Monday, hundreds of protesters (up to 200) gathered outside the High Court of Justice in Jerusalem. Although calm was later restored, the controversy has not gone away. It involves the right of religious leader to express opinions with impunity.

Lior was arrested, questioned and released on Monday after refusing to appear before an inquiry looking into his endorsement of a controversial book published in 2009, “Torat Hamelech,” by Rabbi Yitzhak Shapira, which justifies the killing of non-Jews.

The author of the text and two other Jewish religious scholars who endorsed the book and its content are under investigation.

Lior, who heads the Jewish community in Kiryat Arba in the Judean hills as well as the Council of Jewish Communities of Judea, Samaria and the Gaza Strip, said in the past that the Torah is above the law and the state, statements have caused a huge storm in Israel.

National Union Knesset Member Michael Ben-Ari blamed the Public Security minister for allowing the rabbi to be arrested. Conversely, Meretz MK Zahava Gal-On lauded the arrest of Rabbi Lior, whose words over the years, she said, has "given legitimisation and support to acts of violence”.

For his part, Religious Services Minister Yaakov Margi (Shas, ultra-Orthodox) expressed his indignation that Public Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch would treat the rabbi as “a common criminal”.
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