A Victory Against Hate and Violence in Israel

February 16, 2021Anat Hoffman

For the first time in Israel’s history, a rabbi has been criminally convicted on charges of incitement to violence.

Earlier this month, the Magistrate Court of Petah Tikvah found Rabbi Yosef Elitzur guilty of inciting violence on the basis of two articles published in 2013, in which he glorifies Tag Mechir, Price Tag – hate crimes directed at Israel’s Palestinian population.

We at the Israel Religious Action Center have been working against Rabbi Elitzur since the publication of the first volume of his book Torat Hamelech (The King’s Torah) in 2009, in which he permits the killing of non-Jews and uses Jewish law to justify hate and violence. In response to his published writings, we filed two lawsuits against Rabbi Elitzur, one in 2012 and the other in 2015. In them, we argued against his unacceptable use of Jewish teachings to encourage and lay the conceptual foundation for Price Tag hate crimes. Both of our cases were rejected.

The attorney general’s recent indictment was based on two articles encouraging violence against Arabs that were published in 2013 on the website The Jewish Voice.

Here's an excerpt from the book Torat Hamelech:

"There are times when we will want to harm the innocent from the outset. And their presence and their killing is actually beneficial and helpful to us. For example, harming the infants from the wicked king’s family, who are currently innocent; their killing helps us to harm and pain the king so that he will stop fighting us."

Here an excerpt from “Do Not Despair – Just Grow! Opinion,” May 1, 2013:

"There is a growing trend of actions done by Jews against the enemy. This can be seen as the desperate actions of a people pushed into a corner, but those who come closer will discern that these are the buds of a growing group that is taking responsibility for the security of the Jewish people. Following the murder of the holy Evyatar Borovsky, may God avenge his death, a number of actions were carried out around Israel. These actions were mainly against the Arab population, which was responsible for the crime…

"The main point is that a public with a different vision, a different vision for the government that represents the Jewish people, is emerging. These masses carries out actions in enemy territory. These actions do not stem from desperation: they are the first actions of a new society lifting its head. Through these actions, these clearminded Jews, who understand that Judaism is the main reason for our existence here, are beginning to express themselves. These actions are the first buds of Jewish trust, mutual responsibility, and concern for the peace of the Jews in Israel and around the world…"

And finally, an excerpt from “How to ‘Catch’ Price Tag Activities – Opinion”, May 28, 2013:

"In the end, one does not want to live in anarchy, and even if we are forced to live according to the laws of the jungle and show the wicked nations of the world that Jews can also play this game – the goal is to arrive at an amended establishment in which taking care of Jews is built in, in which justice and good prevail over injustice and evil, and does not just preserve the ‘balance’ between the demands of evildoers and the survival of the persecuted…"

This court ruling is a culmination of years of our legal work against Rabbi Elitzur’s racism and incitement. The court determined that there is a strong likelihood that these two articles led to numerous hate crimes and acts of violence, stating:

"Immunity from prosecution will not be granted to those with status who clearly draft their words, weigh them and publish them on a public and institutional website. It is selective enforcement as long as only citizens without status and recognition are prosecuted…without prosecuting those with influence, recognition, education and status alongside them."

Rabbi Elitzur’s conviction sends a clear message that racism and violence are not acceptable in Judaism, and will be punishable by Israeli law. We will continue to monitor rabbis who use their authority and Jewish teachings to incite to violence and racism and ensure that they are brought to justice.

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