Israeli ministers celebrate rabbi who endorsed Hebron massacre perpetrator
Two Israeli ministers are speaking on Thursday at an award ceremony celebrating a right-wing rabbi who praised the perpetrator of the 1994 massacre in Hebron's Ibrahimi mosque and called for the killing of non-Jews in his writings.
Rafi Peretz, the education minister, and Bezalel Smotrich, the transportation minister, both confirmed that they would be present as the award for "creativity in Torah", is handed to Rabbi Yitzchak Ginsburgh by the Cathedra for Torah and Wisdom, a religious Israeli NGO.
The ministers' attendence has caused uproar in parts of Israeli society.
Smotrich defended his decision last month, tweeting: “Rabbi Ginsburgh is a genius and a tremendous sage with a Torah oeuvre of incomprehensible breadth. You don’t have to agree with him on every single thing to believe he deserves an award.”
Ginsburgh was born in the United States in 1944 and made a name in Israel as a prominent authority in Jewish Torah and mysticism. He has many followers among Israeli settlers.
'The participation of the two Israeli ministers in the granting of a prize to Ginsburgh is formal sponsorship of terrorism'
- Palestinian Authority
In 1994, he wrote a pamphlet praising Baruch Goldstein, an American doctor who killed 29 Palestinians in the holy month of Ramadan inside Hebron's Ibrahimi mosque as they were performing the dawn prayer.
Goldstein was part of the notorious Rabbi Meir Kahane's Kach party, which has been outlawed in Israel and designated as a terrorist organisation by the US state department.
Kahane, who was killed by a gunman in New York in 1990, preached that only Jews should be able to live freely in Israel and encouraged violence against the country's critics
Ginsburgh also endorsed and co-authored some chapters of “The King’s Torah” with Yitzhak Shapira, a right-wing settler and rabbi. The book purports to outline the “legal contexts” in which Jews can kill non-Jews.
In one part, the book says killing non-Jewish babies is permitted, “if there is a good chance they will grow up to be like their evil parents,” the Times of Israel reported.
The Palestinian Authority's foreign ministry issued a statement slamming Peretz and Smotrich for their attendance of the award ceremony.
“The participation of the two Israeli ministers in the granting of a prize to Ginsburgh is formal sponsorship of terrorism,” the statement said.
“The ministry affirms that the participation of the ministers in such a celebration is clear evidence of their support and public embrace of the extremist rabbi’s idea.”