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Chabad Emissary Held at Ben-Gurion; Police Crack Down on ‘Right Wing Publication’

Morning prayer during a trip to the Himalayas, organized by Chabad of Dharamsala, India. Rabbi Hanan Herbst was detained for interrogation at Ben Gurion upon returning from India.

Morning prayer during a trip to the Himalayas, organized by Chabad of Dharamsala, India. Rabbi Hanan Herbst was detained for interrogation at Ben Gurion upon returning from India.
Photo Credit: Chabad of Dharamsala

Rabbi Hanan Herbst, a Chabad emissary and resident of Ma’ale Levona in the Binyamin region who returned with his wife and children Thursday morning from half a year of outreach work in India, was arrested at Ben-Gurion airport in Lod. After negotiations between the police and a Honenu attorney the emissary was released.

Honenu is a not-for-profit legal aid organization

According to Honenu’s report, Hanan Herbst and his family spent the past six months operating a Chabad House – teaching and also running a kosher restaurant for the benefit of Jews traveling in the area, the city of Dharamsala, India, a spiritual and mystical center which attracts a large number of travelers from all over the world, among them many Jews.

On Thursday morning, the family landed at the Ben-Gurion airport where an unpleasant surprise awaited them. Airport police informed Harbest that the National Unit for Serious and International Crime Investigations had declared him “wanted for an interrogation” which is why he was being detained. After a short discussion, Herbst learned that the investigation concerned the publication of articles supposedly calling for violence, in “HaKol HaYehudi” (“The Jewish Voice”) more than a year ago.

“HaKol HaYehudi” is a right wing publication focusing on providing an alternative to Israel’s mainstream media for news and opinion. The publication has been under widespread investigation for about a year, including raids on its offices, confiscation of equipment and arrests of staff members.

Last week, two Yitzhar residents were summoned to the offices of the National Unit for Serious and International Crime Investigations for an interrogation concerning the publication of articles in “HaKol HaYehudi” which supposedly incited to violence.

In negotiations with Honenu attorney Adi Kedar the National Unit for Serious and International Crime Investigations agreed that Herbst would report of his own volition to an interrogation this coming Sunday and that he and his family would be free to return home.

Back in 2006, Hanan Herbst was among 19 Jews from various outposts in the Yitzhar area of Samaria who received administrative orders over the Sukkot holiday ordering them to leave their homes, and in some cases all of Judea and Samaria, for periods ranging from three months to a year.

Previous charges against the 19 were quite minor, ranging from blocking traffic in protest of government policy to preventing a police officer from carrying out his duty. But the GSS at the time was said to have provided secret information about the 19 harboring “secret, violent plans against Arabs or Arab property.”

About the Author: Yori Yanover has been a working journalist since age 17, before he enlisted and worked for Ba'Machane Nachal. Since then he has worked for Israel Shelanu, the US supplement of Yedioth, JCN18.com, USAJewish.com, Lubavitch News Service, Arutz 7 (as DJ on the high seas), and the Grand Street News. He has published Dancing and Crying, a colorful and intimate portrait of the last two years in the life of the late Lubavitch Rebbe, (in Hebrew), and two fun books in English: The Cabalist's Daughter: A Novel of Practical Messianic Redemption, and How Would God REALLY Vote.


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