Rabbi Dov Lior
Photo: Gil Yohanan

Rabbi’s arrest wrong move

Op-ed: Despite his infuriating words and actions, Rabbi Dov Lior’s arrest was not a wise move

Some 30 years ago, I spent a few days in Kiryat Arba. We were graduates of a high school yeshiva at the time and went from one hesder yeshiva to another in order to see where we’d like to go during our military service. In no other yeshiva were we lavished with as much warmth and love as in Rabbi Dov Lior’s yeshiva


On Shabbat, we went for Morning Prayer with Yeshiva students at the Cave of the Patriarchs; the compound was divided by ropes at the time, separating the Muslim area that was covered with carpets from the Jewish area. And then, at the end of the prayer session, the youngsters crossed into the Muslim area at once and embarked on a lively, arrogant dance on the Arab carpets.


I looked on stunned and horrified. It was like a lightning strike; a stop sign on a critical junction. I never returned to Kiryat Arba since then.


The above is meant to say that the level of repulsion provoked by the acts and words coming from that beit midrash do not justify foolish acts such as Rabbi Dov Lior’s arrest Monday.


Rabbi Lior is a longtime pyromaniac in the field of Jewish Law attitude to gentiles in general and to Arabs in particular. The harsh quotes attributed to him over the years in this respect are merely a small sample of the words he uttered in closed-door sessions. However, Lior is also one of the leading figures of religious Zionism, a 77-year-old man who is a prodigy in matters of Torah and Jewish Law. He enjoys great appreciation in very broad circles of the religious Zionist camp in general and is admired by the branch that leans towards the haredi world.


Israel’s rule of law has maintained a complex relationship with religious Zionism in the last few years, especially since the Gush Katif evacuation. The wound is far from being healed. It is reopened every time officials take a decision to evacuate a remote hut at some forgotten hill and every time some senior officer or mediocre attorney or junior journalist utters a miserable statement.


Provocative message

Nurturing the sense of bitterness and alienation is something that is regularly done by many members of this community. They feel persecuted – they write about it in their papers, speak about it in their lectures, and even sing about it in their musical hits.


Those who made the decision to detain Lior, and certainly in the manner he was arrested, may be law enforcement officials, but they are also reckless. Tens of thousands of pedestrians cross our roads on a red light every day, yet police officers are not waiting for them with handcuffs near every traffic light. We may have laws, but we also need brains.


Such crude act, arresting Lior on a city street, thereby undermining the honor of an elderly spiritual leader admired by the masses, cannot but convey a provocative, haughty message. Just like that dance on the Arab carpets in the Cave of the Patriarchs.


In the days after Rabin’s murder, the Shin Bet and police walked on eggshells in respect to the detention and interrogation of rabbis. In that case, facing a traumatic national event that prompted the assassination of an Israeli leader and screamed out for a full probe of the truth, decision-makers feared a sweeping reaction to such arrests. Yet a brief endorsement by Lior in the introduction to the “King’s Torah” pamphlet – a dubious work that enjoyed monstrous rating only after the media storm – prompted officials to take action.


The State of Israel is facing numerous domestic and external threats, and even after 63 years has trouble producing a stable governmental and constitutional tradition. If those who issue orders and instructions fail to understand that justice, just like bribery, may sometimes blind people – the difficult days we can expect following Lior’s arrest will be a mere promo for what lies ahead.



פרסום ראשון: 06.29.11, 13:18
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