Press Release

IDI Program Director Response to Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef

IDI scholar opposes call to immediately kill knife-wielding terrorists

Yair Sheleg says head of Israel's rabbinical court should not take public stances on controversial non-religious issues.

An IDI program director says he opposes the statement made over the weekend by Chief Rabbi Yitzhak Yosef calling on Israelis to immediately kill knife-wielding terrorists (see article:

In reaction, Yair Sheleg, head of IDI's religion and state program stated:
If Rav Yosef was a private citizen, he would enjoy the right to freedom of expression belonging to any Israeli citizen. However, as the Sefardi Chief Rabbi and the head of Israel's rabbinical court, he must not take public stances on controversial non-religious issues, just like his colleagues on the Supreme Court refrain from doing.

As a senior religious judge, his position is not just the private stance of an average citizen, but a religious edict that is intended to obligate those who follow him. In that context, his name could be added to a long list of rabbis have rendered problematic religious edicts on public issues that should be the responsibility of others – in this case, security officials, the government, and Supreme Court judges who adjudicate the legality of such actions. He is failing his followers in the religious sector by forcing them to decide between their religion and their state: Will they listen to the Chief of Staff of the army or the Chief Rabbi?