When a West Bank mosque was burned and vandalized last month, likely by Jewish settlers, we worried that it could precipitate a conflagration that would dwarf the initial, terrible act. But cooler heads fortunately prevailed, complete with a cavalcade of Israeli political and religious leaders condemning the arson. And today Shin Bet arrested Yitzhak Shapira, a rabbi from the West Bank settlement of Yitzhar whose yeshiva is (in)famous for pledging to launch attacks against West Bank Palestinians in response to Israel’s ten-month construction freeze.
While those you’d most immediately expect to praise the arrest and condemn the rabbi’s radical creed did so, it is pleasing (‘surprising’ is the wrong word, but it is notable) to see the Anti-Defamation League’s Abraham Foxman step forward and demand, of Shapira’s book: “We call on the chief rabbis of Israel and rabbinic leaders in the Orthodox community—in the United States and throughout the world—to speak out against this text as a perversion of Judaism.” (Among other things, the book says that Jews violate the commandment against murder only when they kill a fellow Jew.)
Shapira’s teachings, Foxman added, “are anathema not only to the tenets of Judaism but to the humanitarian and democratic principles upon which the state of Israel was founded.”