The Religious Zionist movement has issued a blanket condemnation of the arrest of Rabbi Yitzhak Shapira over the book he authored. Dozens of rabbis, Knesset members, and National Religious public figures have signed a petition against the rabbi’s arrest, claiming that he expressed “a halachic opinion.”
The petition also came out against the manner in which he was arrested – in the middle of the night by dozens of policemen.
Beit El Rabbi Shlomo Aviner told Ynet on Monday that the book “Torat Hamelech” is a “halachic-academic work, a pedagogical work,” and, therefore, there is no justification to send its author to prison.
According to Rabbi Aviner, the “‘religious laws governing the killing of a non-Jew’ outlined in the book are a legitimate stance and must be addressed via clarification of halachic sources and nothing else.”
Despite this, Rabbi Aviner said that he is against the book’s publication. “I do not think it is correct to write various halachas on killing a non-Jew, just a Swede should not write about killing a Norwegian,” he said. “It is clear that it is forbidden to kill non-Jews for naught, and it is clear that in a time of war, it is permissible to defend yourself against anyone shooting at you, even if he is a ‘good’ person.”
Even head of the Tzohar organization, Rabbi David Stav, known as one o the moderate forces within Religious Zionism, condemned Rabbi Shapira’s arrest: “Regardless of the level of halachic legitimacy of his opinions, it is unreasonable and illogical that a rabbi in Israel be treated like the worst of criminals. For some reason, they are treating him in a way they would not dare treat public officials or even Palestinians.”
Rabbi Stav said that he would expect the security forces to contact Shapira and summon him to the police station honorably, and not treat him as someone who is likely to escape and evade investigation.
“Nothing new happened yesterday or today,” he mentioned. “Apparently, it was simply a desire to mock and humiliate him.”
In principle, the Tzohar chairman believes the State has the right to arrest rabbis over their halachic positions if they believe there is significant concern that they may be acted on or could realistically encourage breaking the law so as to prevent “chaos.”
“A distinction must be made between making a theoretical statement and a model for an operative plan of action,” he said. “For this matter, even if it is halachically permissible to kill Arabs, it is the State’s right to arrest whoever says this,” he said.