High Court petitioned on “Handbook for the Killing of Gentiles”
A group of petitioners on Sunday called on the High Court of Justice to indict two Yitzhar settlement rabbis for writing and marketing a book in which they say Jewish religious law permits the murder of Palestinian babies and that at times it is preferable to deliberately kill innocent people.
“There are reasons for killing babies even though they have not violated the seven sins, because of the danger that will be caused if they are allowed to live and grow up to be as evil as their parents,” the petitioners quoted from the book, “The Torah of the King.”
Attempts to criminalize expression in Israel never succeed. The Attorney General interprets the incitement law very narrowly in accordance with a landmark HCJ ruling from 2000. In the few cases that an investigation is opened, it rarely results in an indictment. The courts are also reluctant to convict and when they do, usually years after the event, the sentences are so light that they have no deterrence value.
Liberal Israelis should be happy that this is the legal state of affairs. It’s no accident that the petition on which the HCJ ruled was submitted by the Association for Civil Rights in Israel. Strict limits on freedom of expression undermine democracy and provide a handy tool for government to suppress political opposition — already an emerging problem in Israel.
The petitioners are undoubtedly well intentioned, but they have chosen an ineffective, and ultimately dangerous, mode of action. Their cause would have been better served if they focused their energies on blocking government funding of the yeshiva in question or rescinding federal tax exemptions for its US supporters.