Religious racism and incitement to violence are problems that Israel can’t afford to ignore. On Monday, in response to the legal petition filed by NIF grantees Israel Religious Action Center (IRAC) and Tag Meir, Attorney General Avichai Mandelblit decided to press charges against Rabbi Yosef Elitzur for his publications that incite to violence. The charges are based on his articles and his infamous 2013 book Torat Hamelech, which encourage Price Tag violence. Elitzur’s publications preach that we must cause ”greater damage to the body and possessions of Arabs” and encourage young boys to take part in terrorist activities such as setting churches and mosques on fire.
Orly Erez-Likhovski, head of IRAC’s legal department, said that “the decision to prosecute Rabbi Elitzur, who for years has preached racism and violence, is the right decision, even if it is very late. Rabbi Elitzur voiced and published many inflammatory words that influenced his students, many of who have been involved in terrorist activities against Arabs. Only aggressive treatment of the serious phenomenon of incitement will make it so rabbis cease to use their status to preach hatred and hostility. These days, when racist incitement and violence is a daily occurrence, we must relearn that ‘humans are precious for they were created in God’s image.’”
The charges send a clear message that religious racism and violence will not be tolerated. They represent one more step towards a more just, more equal Israel.