Rabbis summoned over anti-Arab ruling

Three Judea and Samaria religious leaders inform police they won’t show up for questioning session on suspicion of issuing leaflet against hiring minorities. Settlement officials: Intimidation attempt like in Soviet Russia

by Yair Altman (December 12, 2010 – Ynet)

Three prominent Judea and Samaria rabbis have been questioned by the Jerusalem District Police on suspicion of calling on their followers not to hire minorities.

According to the police, the three were summoned about two weeks ago as part of an investigation against a leaflet issued by some 20 rabbis after the terror attack at the Mercaz Harav Yeshiva in Jerusalem

In the same leaflet, the rabbis spoke against hiring Arabs, as the murderer was a yeshiva employee who had taken advantage of his knowledge of the place. Police officials told Ynet that some of the 20 rabbis were interrogated on suspicion of incitement and others are slated to be questioned.

The three rabbis – Elyakim Levanon, David Dudkevitch and Yehoshua Schmidt – were to be questioned for signing the leaflet. Levanon is head of the Elon Moreh Yeshiva and the community rabbi, and was recently elected rabbi of the Shomron Regional Council. Dudkevitch is the rabbi of the settlement of Yitzhar and head of a kollel, and Schmidt is head of the Shavei Shomron Yeshiva, the community rabbi and a member of the Samaria Rabbis’ Committee.

‘Thought police’

The rabbis and their associates in the settlement defined the investigation “an intimidation attempt like in Soviet Russia”, and informed the police in a letter that they had no plans to show up for the questioning session.

“We were amazed to receive the summons, signed by a sergeant major, calling us in for questioning without elaborating on the subject of the investigation,” the rabbis wrote. “Our door is open to any investigator who should arrive at our offices or homes and present the matter he is interested in questioning us about. In the future, we expect that the required procedure for questioning rabbis be made clear to any investigator.”

Shomron Regional Council officials were enraged about the investigation. “These are the leaders of the community. It’s the start of a growing intimidation attempt against the settlements’ rabbis,” one of them said.

According to the official, investigators telephoned one of the rabbis, cursed and threatened him. Gershon Mesika, head of the regional council, sent a letter to Internal Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch, asking, whether “a junior policeman would take the liberty to summon a district judge, a bishop or a senior Muslim religious judge?”

Knesset Member Michael Ben-Ari (National Union) responded to the affair: “Summoning the rabbis for questioning contains elements of silencing and thought police. Rabbis should not be afraid of voicing the Torah and rule on controversial issues as well.”

His fellow faction member, MK Arieh Eldad, said he would turn to the internal security minister. “The summons raises heavy suspicions of political persecution and an attempt to intimidate an entire public.”

Three prominent Judea and Samaria rabbis have been questioned by the Jerusalem District Police on suspicion of calling on their followers not to hire minorities.

According to the police, the three were summoned about two weeks ago as part of an investigation against a leaflet issued by some 20 rabbis after the terror attack at the Mercaz Harav Yeshiva in Jerusalem.

In the same leaflet, the rabbis spoke against hiring Arabs, as the murderer was a yeshiva employee who had taken advantage of his knowledge of the place. Police officials told Ynet that some of the 20 rabbis were interrogated on suspicion of incitement and others are slated to be questioned.

The three rabbis – Elyakim Levanon, David Dudkevitch and Yehoshua Schmidt – were to be questioned for signing the leaflet. Levanon is head of the Elon Moreh Yeshiva and the community rabbi, and was recently elected rabbi of the Shomron Regional Council. Dudkevitch is the rabbi of the settlement of Yitzhar and head of a kollel, and Schmidt is head of the Shavei Shomron Yeshiva, the community rabbi and a member of the Samaria Rabbis’ Committee.

‘Thought police’

The rabbis and their associates in the settlement defined the investigation “an intimidation attempt like in Soviet Russia”, and informed the police in a letter that they had no plans to show up for the questioning session.

“We were amazed to receive the summons, signed by a sergeant major, calling us in for questioning without elaborating on the subject of the investigation,” the rabbis wrote. “Our door is open to any investigator who should arrive at our offices or homes and present the matter he is interested in questioning us about. In the future, we expect that the required procedure for questioning rabbis be made clear to any investigator.”

Shomron Regional Council officials were enraged about the investigation. “These are the leaders of the community. It’s the start of a growing intimidation attempt against the settlements’ rabbis,” one of them said.

According to the official, investigators telephoned one of the rabbis, cursed and threatened him. Gershon Mesika, head of the regional council, sent a letter to Internal Security Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch, asking, whether “a junior policeman would take the liberty to summon a district judge, a bishop or a senior Muslim religious judge?”

Knesset Member Michael Ben-Ari (National Union) responded to the affair: “Summoning the rabbis for questioning contains elements of silencing and thought police. Rabbis should not be afraid of voicing the Torah and rule on controversial issues as well.”

His fellow faction member, MK Arieh Eldad, said he would turn to the internal security minister. “The summons raises heavy suspicions of political persecution and an attempt to intimidate an entire public.”

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