Israel to clamp down on rabbis ‘inciting’ Jewish terrorism

Law enforcement to lower bar for investigating far-right spiritual leaders, in effort to curb anti-Arab violence

Times of Israel/December 27, 2015

Israeli authorities are looking at new steps to crack down on extreme right-wing rabbis who are alleged proponents of violence against Arabs, and to investigate those suspected of inciting Jewish terrorism.

Defense Minister Moshe Ya’alon called Saturday night for investigations into rabbis who incite far-right extremists to carry out attacks against Arabs. Ya’alon also said, in a Channel 2 interview, that police were expected to file criminal charges against several suspected Jewish terrorists for involvement in the fatal July 31 firebombing of a Palestinian home in the West Bank village of Duma.

“There’s no immunity for rabbis. If a direct connection is shown between rabbinic incitement and terror activity, we won’t hesitate to investigate and bring to justice,” a senior Justice Ministry source told Yedioth Ahronoth in a Sunday report.

Attempts to make incitement laws in Israel more stringent have failed to make headway, and if rabbis are summoned for investigation by police it would constitute a major shift in Israel’s policy vis-a-vis extremist Jewish elements.

Law enforcement officials were expected to lower the bar for what constitutes incitement to violence in a bid to crack down on rabbis calling for violence against Palestinians, the report said.

Among the religious leaders listed by Yedioth Ahronoth as possible targets for investigation for incitement to violence were rabbis Dov Lior, Yitzhak Shapira, Yitzchak Ginzburgh, and Daniel Stavsky.

In a video published by Ynet on Friday, Stavsky, a prominent religious leader among extremist settlers, said that concerning the Duma attack, “it’s known that all the actions they want to attribute to Jews — Arabs did, and even the provocateurs of the Shin Bet’s division against Jewish terrorism did it in order to incriminate [settler extremists].”

Riham and Saad Dawabsha and their 18-month-old baby Ali died in the July 31 attack on their home — Ali in the blaze started by the firebomb and his parents in the following days. The sole surviving member of the family, five-year-old Ahmed, is being treated for severe burns in an Israeli hospital. Israeli authorities contend the firebombing was the work of Jewish terrorists, and several suspects are in custody.

The Joint (Arab) List in a statement Saturday singled out Stavsky as one of the religious leaders “who support radical settlers and lend support to their acts of terrorism” and whose “religious rulings permit bloodshed and violence against Arabs.”

Stavsky officiated at a wedding earlier this month where guests danced with rifles and knives to songs calling for revenge against Palestinians and celebrating the murder of the Dawabsha family. A video from the wedding was leaked to the press earlier this week, prompting outrage.

Dozens of guests at the wedding will be summoned by police for questioning this week.

“It’s clear to everyone that Jewish crimes and terrorism are supported by these rabbis and others, and if the police really want to stop this terror they must arrest these inciting rabbis and investigate them,” Joint List party chairman MK Masud Ghanayim wrote in the statement.

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