By Donald Macintyre, Wednesday 30 May 2012
Israel’s Attorney General has decided not to prosecute two rabbis who wrote a controversial religious text proposing circumstances in which it is permissible to kill non-Jews even if they pose no direct physical threat of violence.
Yehuda Weinstein said remarks in the text, known as the “King’s Torah”, were “deserving of condemnation and denunciation”, but also added that an investigation had failed to produce enough evidence to justify an indictment for incitement.
Critics of the text, whose religious Zionist authors come from the notably hardline West Bank settlement of Yitzhar, argue it is racist and could be read as sanctioning the murder of Arabs.
According to advertisements denouncing the text, published last year by Brit Hoshech Legaresh, a broad organisation of Israeli Orthodox, Reform, Conservative and secular Jews, it suggested “every place the presence of a non-Jew endangers a Jewish life it is permitted to kill him even if he is one of the righteous among gentiles and bears no guilt for the situation that has been created.” It also reportedly says killing children would be permissible if they are being raised with the objective of harming Jews, to prevent them growing up as enemies.
The two authors, rabbis Yitzhak Shapira and Yosef Elitsur, are both heads of the Dorchei Yehudcha yeshiva high school in the Yitzhar settlement, near Nablus. The education ministry last year denied the yeshiva funding after a recommendation by Shin Bet, the domestic intelligence agency, that it be closed down because of evidence that some students were involved in violent and illegal activities against Palestinians.
According to the Israeli newspaper Haaretz, the two rabbis defended themselves during the investigation by saying their book explicitly states “the killing of a gentile is forbidden by Torah”. But they then appeared to qualify this by adding “the text indicates that harm can only be brought to a person who does not uphold the seven laws of Noah, and such harm can only come about in certain circumstances.”