Rabbi Dov Lior: A Case Study in State-Sponsored Incitement
PHOTO: Rabbi Dov Lior speaks at a rally outside the Supreme Court in Jerusalem in July 2011, a month after being arrested on suspicion of incitement after he endorsed The King's Torah, a book that condoned the killing of non-Jewish civilians, including children. (Nati Shohat/Flash90)
On Wednesday, Rabbi Dov Lior, an influential leader of the religious Zionist movement and head of the Council of Rabbis of Judea and Samaria (the occupied West Bank), called on the Israeli military to completely destroy Gaza if necessary in order to quell rocket fire from the occupied, besieged, and blockaded coastal strip, urging the “extermination” of “the enemy.” In recent weeks, since the killing of three Israeli teens in the West Bank, a wave of virulent racism and violent attacks against Palestinians across erupted across Israel, fuelled by incitement from political and religious leaders like Lior.
- Dov Lior is the extreme right-wing chief rabbi of illegal Jewish settlements in Hebron and Kiryat Arba in the occupied Palestinian West Bank, the head of the Council of Rabbis of Judea and Samaria (the West Bank), and a leading figure in the religious Zionist movement. In his capacity as a municipal rabbi of settlements in the West Bank, the notoriously racist Lior receives a salary from the Israeli government.
- Lior has repeatedly condoned the killing of Palestinian civilians and stated that the Biblical injunction “Thou shalt not kill” only applies to other Jews. He once wrote that Palestinian prisoners should be used as guinea pigs for medical experiments.
- In the 1980s, Lior reportedly incited members of the so-called “Jewish Underground” to carry out terrorist attacks that killed innocent Palestinians.
- Lior was the rabbi of Brooklyn-born settler Baruch Goldstein, who murdered 29 Palestinians as they prayed at the Tomb of the Patriarchs in Hebron in 1994. Following the massacre, Lior praised Goldstein as “a holier martyr than all the holy martyrs of the Holocaust.”
- He also reportedly issued a religious ruling condemning Israeli Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin as a traitor worthy of death and counseled Rabin’s assassin Yigal Amir.
- Speaking to a group of settlers in September 2014, Lior called for all Arabs to be "cleaned" out from Israel and the occupied territories, stating: “We must strive to clean the entire country."
- On July 23, 2014, Lior urged the Israeli government to take any measures necessary to “exterminate” the enemy in Gaza, including completely destroying the territory, regardless of the civilian death toll, writing on his Facebook page:
“Therefore, in a time of war, the attacked nation is permitted to punish the enemy population with whatever measures it deems proper, like blocking supplies or electricity. It may bomb the entire area based on the judgment of the war minister and not wantonly put soldiers at risk… deterrent measures to exterminate the enemy [are allowed].”
“The defense minister may even order the destruction of Gaza so that the south should no longer suffer, and to prevent harm to members of our people who have long been suffering from the enemies surrounding us.”
- On June 18, 2014, Lior wrote on his Facebook page that one of the reasons that three Israeli teenagers went missing in the occupied West Bank on June 12 was because of “anti-Jewish legislation” passed by the Israeli government, writing:
“Unfortunately, we are witness to a severe decline in the government's dealings with the Jewish character of the state… There has been a spate of new laws whose common denominator is the undermining of the Jewish quality of our public life, including harm to the family structure, harm to the procedures for conversion according to the Torah, and an attempt to dilute the requirement that the convert observe Torah and keep the mitzvot and other laws. The goal of these laws is to blur the distinctiveness of the nation of Israel and make it like all the gentile nations."
He also placed blame on what he described as “the constant drive to hand over parts to the land of Israel to terrorists, under the illusion that in this way we will achieve peace. … With the enemies around us there was no peace, there is no peace and there will be no peace."
- In October 2013, Lior called for Israel to “cleanse” Israel and the occupied territories of “terrorists” and to take direct control of the Noble Sanctuary Mosque complex in the Old City of occupied East Jerusalem, one of the holiest sites in Islam, known as the Temple Mount to Jews. He declared: “We are not far from seeing the day when our land is cleansed from terrorists… Our generation is charged with reclaiming the Temple Mount.” Stating that Palestinians “can go to Saudi Arabia,” he added: I’m not saying we shouldn’t help them from a humanitarian point of view. If need be, we’ll build stables for their camels. In Saudi Arabia. Not here.”
- In late 2013, Lior was one of the leaders of a successful campaign calling for Israeli women to be barred from working night shifts at hospitals as part of their national service so as to prevent them from coming into contact with Arabs.
- In October 2013, Lior was one of a number of prominent religious Zionist rabbis who issued a call urging Jews to say a special prayer asking God to ensure Israeli control over the occupied Palestinian territories and for the failure of the peace talks recently restarted by US Secretary of State John Kerry.
- In September 2012, Lior led an event to honor an Israeli settler convicted of tying up and beating a Palestinian teenager, stripping him naked, and then dumping him on the side of the road. A few months previous, the same settler and another assailant attacked the same teen and killed a baby goat belonging to him. Lior claimed that the settler was framed, adding that Israeli courts are "driven by racist hatred of Jews."
- In February 2012, Lior, called President Barack Obama a "kushi," a derogatory term for individuals of African descent, and compared him to Haman, an enemy of the Jewish people described in the Biblical Book of Esther. He also called for increased settlement activity in the occupied Palestinian West Bank, in order to "eradicate the jungle."
- In September 2011 Lior told a conference that Arabs are "wolves," "savages," and "evil camel riders." The same month, he told a settler rally "There are no innocents in war," stating: "We have murderous rioters surrounding us, according to the Torah, there is room for collective punishment and the IDF must carry out the punishment against the rioters."
- In June 2011, Lior was arrested and subsequently released without charge by Israeli police on suspicion of incitement after he wrote a forward endorsing The King's Torah, a book that condoned the killing of non-Jewish civilians, including children.
- In January 2011, at a "women's health conference," Lior warned Jewish women against marrying non-Jewish men, saying that "Gentile sperm leads to barbaric offspring."
- In December 2010, Lior's wife was one of some 30 wives of prominent rabbis who signed an open letter calling on Jewish women not to date, work, or socialize with non-Jews.
- In March 2008, Lior issued a religious ruling declaring that it is forbidden for Jews to employ Arabs or to rent homes to them.
- In December 2007, Lior stated: "We must cleanse the country of Arabs and resettle them in the countries where they came from."