Feb 8, 2011
Silencing The Right
I see this whole issue with Rav Lior being called in by the police for questioning regarding the approbation he wrote for the book that discussed the halacha of killing non-Jews during wartime to really be two distinct issues:
- can rabbis say things that are deemed as racist, regardless of whether or not they are simply discussing halacha/torah/theology/etc.?
- Can rabbis be called in for questioning or is that considered disrespectful to the rabbis?
Personally, I see nothing wrong with a rabbi being called in for questioning. I dont think it is disrespectful, if they are either suspected of wrongdoing or if they can possibly assist the police with information, witness, character assessment, etc. Being called in to the police itself I don't see as an issue that involves kavod. If he is needed to help the police he should go, and if he is suspected of wrongdoing he should not be deserving of that kavod he is demanding (doesn't Pirkei Avos say to make sure one's actions are not suspect?)
Regarding the first issue, they should definitely be given leeway. When every professor can shoot off his mouth and say horrible things about right-wingers, settlers, religious people, haredim, etc and not be taken in for questioning or for incitement, or racist expression, rabbis should not be treated any worse. There is clearly an inequal application of the law being used as to who gets called in when.
As well, the content under discussion was not written to incite to murder anyone, as it was a purely "theoretical" halachic debate. And, Rav Lior did not write it - he only gave the book an approbation.
I don't know the intention of the author when he picked the topic he chose to write about. Was he intending to provoke? To incite? To discuss? I don't know. Perhaps authors should be more discerning and sensitive to the realities of today's world when choosing their topics. Despite that, choosing to debate a torah concept and halachic point in a book should not be grounds for incitement. What's next - anybody who dares to write a book about intermarriage will be brought in for promoting racism? What about a book on the topic of killing out Amalek? There is no shortage of topics in the Torah that can be attacked under this guise.
While taking in a rabbi for questioning does not necessarily have to be an issue of kavod, the issue here is that they are trying to silence people who have said nothing wrong. Rav Lior should probably even go to the police proudly and say he has nothing to hide, he will not hide behind the cloth of the clergy and explain what he did, though I understand not cooperating as well. The police and authorities are simply trying to silence the right wing rabbis.