JERUSALEM (JTA) — A controversial far-right Israeli rabbi said in a letter posted on his Facebook page that three Israeli teens were kidnapped because of legislation he described as against the Jewish character of the state.
“We have been witnessing a serious deterioration in the government’s attitude toward the state’s Jewish character,” Lior wrote. “There is a flood of laws whose common denominator is to damage and chip away at the Jewish character of our public life.”
The rabbi said the laws cause “harm to the family structure, harm to the procedures for conversion according to the Torah, and an attempt to dilute the requirement that the convert observe Torah and keep the mitzvot and other laws. The goal of these laws is to blur the distinctiveness of the nation of Israel and make it like all the gentile nations.”
Lior is the chief rabbi of Hebron and Kiryat Arba and head of the Kiryat Arba hesder yeshiva, a program combining text study and army service.
In June 2011, Lior was arrested after months of refusing to appear for questioning for his endorsement of the book “Torat Hamelech,” or “The King’s Torah,” which justifies killing non-Jews.
The rabbi also blamed the political situation and “the constant drive to hand over parts to the land of Israel to terrorists, under the illusion that in this way we will achieve peace.”
The haredi Orthodox daily newspaper Yated Ne’eman, representing the haredi community of Lithuanian descent, on Wednesday published an editorial saying that the kidnapping was a punishment from God for legislation rescinding the exemption on haredi Orthodox yeshiva students from army service.
“When the government tries to reduce the numbers of Torah students, when it passes a draconian law aimed at reducing and criminalizing those who sit on the learning benches, it lays the country open to calamities,” according to the editorial.