Rabbi Dov Lior,
the chief rabbi of Kiryat Arba and one of the settler leaders, was surprised last week by the chilly reception he received from reserve soldiers stationed on the Gaza border.
One of the reserve soldiers called up by the IDF at start of Operation Pillar of Defense
was Rabbi Lior's son-in-law, Efraim Ben-Shachar. Ahead of the weekend, shortly before the reservists were released, Ben-Shachar invited his father-in-law to meet with infantry fighters and support them with a Torah lesson following the arrival of many artists throughout the week.
But Rabbi Lior's visit sparked a row. Some of the unit's soldiers were outraged by the presence of the controversial rabbi, who had endorsed the "King's Torah"
essay, which legitimizes the killing of non-Jews.
According to one of the unit's soldiers, Omer Parter, an activist in the Working Youth movement, protested the rabbi's presence. Rabbi Lior tried to shake his hand, but he refused. When the rabbi asked, "Am I not allowed to speak to the soldiers?" Parter replied, "You are a persona non grata here."
As religious soldiers began gathering around the rabbi to listen to what he had to say, Prater told his comrades that Lior was one of the rabbis who gave their consent to the "King's Torah" book. Along with other soldiers, he searched for quotes from the book on his cell phone, including the permission to kill small children "if it is clear that they will grow up to pose a threat to our nation."
As tensions rose, Rabbi Lior decided to leave several minutes later without addressing the soldiers.
"I believe there is no room for Rabbi Lior's messages in the army," Prater told Ynet. "I oppose and condemn Rabbi Dov Lior's work and activities. I did stop him from speaking in light of his support for Baruch Goldstein and his conduct in the period before Rabin's murder. This is how I educate my pupils at the Working Youth – to love the land and practice equality, and not to hate anyone."
Amos Netzer, a friend of the protesting soldiers, wrote about the incident on his Facebook page: "I am proud of my friends who insisted on the truth, despite the harsh conflict with their comrades, exposing the true colors of one of the greatest instigators in Israel."
According to Ben-Shachar, the soldiers who were present during the incident asked to stress that "in spite of the event, a beautiful social fabric has been created in the unit between different ends of the Israeli public. These are people who risk their lives, shoulder to shoulder, one for all and all for one, and for the entire people of Israel.
Parter added that although he does not regret opposing Rabbi Lior's address, he highly regards Ben-Shachar. "I have a lot of respect for the opinions of the fighters in our unit," he told Ynet. "These people are dear to me. We go back many years."
An associate of Rabbi Dov Lior said in response, "One person was cheeky and shouted, but that did not affect the rabbi and his conversation with the soldiers."