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December 25, 2014 / 3 Tevet, 5775
 
At a Glance

Posts Tagged ‘Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein’

Lieberman Acquitted by All 3 Judges

Wednesday, November 6th, 2013

MK Avigdor Lieberman has been found not guilty Wednesday morning by a three-judge Magistrate Court panel of all the charges against him.

The senior judge, walking into the court, began her statement by announcing that the former—and soon to be once again—Foreign Minister is completely acquitted, by the entire panel.

Lieberman was charged with counts of fraud and breach of trust in appointing Ze’ev Ben Aryeh Ambassador to Belarus.

Lieberman, who leads the coalition partner Israel Beiteinu, was forced to resign the post of foreign minister, which has been kept open for him by Prime Minister Netanyahu. Lieberman will resume his ministerial role even though the prosecution is likely to appeal today’s decision.

Lieberman arrived in the court house accompanied by his two sons. He joked with reporters who asked him how he had spent the night before the verdict, telling them he watched his favorite soccer team on television, counted to 1 and fell asleep.”

Lieberman has used the “count to 1″ quip on several occasions in the past.

The burly politician, whose candidate has just lost a close race for mayor of Jerusalem, has been hounded by several generations of Israeli state prosecutors, dodging case after case and coming up roses. The suit that ended today was launched by the current Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein, who decided a year ago to drop all the “iffy” cases against Lieberman, and concentrate on what he thought was a winnable case.

Essentially, Lieberman was charged with promoting his underling Ze’ev Ben Aryeh to the post of Ambassador to Belarus, after the latter had warned him about his being interrogated on a case that could harm Lieberman.

The 3-judge acquittal may mean the beginning of the end for Attorney General Weinstein, who has already been accused of making a fatal error in dropping other cases against Lieberman in favor of this one, and also of running a lackluster prosecution.

The acquittal is a boost to the right wing factions in the Netanyahu coalition, at a time when the peace talks with the Palestinians appear to be hitting a major snag. It would be interesting to watch the visiting Secretary of State John Kerry, in town to keep the talks alive, coming in to shake hands with the old/new occupant of the corner office in the Foreign Ministry.

Rabbinic Rebellion: NRP Rabbis Back Pick Nixed by AG

Thursday, July 18th, 2013

Dozens of National Religious rabbis on Wednesday signed a letter supporting the candidacy of Tsfat Chief Rabbi, Shmuel Eliyahu, to the post of chief Sephardi rabbi.

On Monday, Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein informed Rabbi Eliyahu that he would not be allowed to present his nomination, due to controversial remarks he had made in the past regarding Jewish-Arab relations. AG Weinstein said in a letter to Rabbi Eliyahu that his candidacy for chief rabbi would be “unsuitable.”

This does not mean that the AG is able to prevent Rabbi Eliyahu’s nomination, but the letter could be seen as a shot across the bow, signaling that, should the rabbi win the post, the AG would petition the High Court to annul the vote.

The statements in question, which have long been dubbed by Israel’s anti-religious media as “racist,” had to do, among other things, with whether or not Jews in Eretz Israel were permitted to sell or rent homes to gentiles. In a specific, individual, ruling—which was misquoted and taken completely out of context by the media—Rabbi Eliyahu prohibited the sale or rental of apartments to Arab students at the Tsfat college.

When interviewed this week by several outlets, it turned out that Rabbi Eliyahu’s opinion has either been modified following the attacks on him, or—which I suspect—has always remained grounded in normative halacha, which offers a righteous gentile living among Jews many protections, unless he is suspected of constituting a danger.

In other words, an Arab would not be prohibited to live in Tsfat because he is “impure” racially, but because he or she, as specific individuals, are behaving in a way that can be perceived as dangerous.

While I, personally, continue to believe Rabbi Eliyahu would be a terrible choice for chief rabbi, because of his inability so far to absorb the notion what an enormous effort is required in order for a faithful Jew to communicate in positive terms with secular Israelis and with a hostile media—I can’t help admiring the heartfelt support for the embattled rabbi from his peers.

The letter supporting Rabbi Eliyahu’s candidacy was signed, among others, by Rabbi Avichai Ronski, Rabbi Avraham Zuckerman, Rabbi Eitan Eizman, Religious Services Deputy Minister Rabbi Eli Ben-Dahan, Rabbi Eliakim Levanon, Rabbi Eliezer Waldman, Rabbi Elisha Vishlitzky, Rabbi Amnon Sugarman, Rabbi Ben Zion Elgazi, Rabbi Benny Kalmanson, Rabbi Haim Druckman, Rabbi Yehoshua Shapira, Rabbi Haggai Lundin, Rabbi Israel Rosen, Rabbi Shabtai Sabato, and Rabbi Shlomo Aviner.

The letter called on Rabbi Eliyahu to continue in the tradition of service of his late, righteous father, Chief Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu, and announce his own candidacy. The rabbis described Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu as “a scholar and a renaissance man who devotes his life to to the people of Israel, through great sacrifices, with love and a bright countenance to every person, whomever they may be.”

Rabbi Yuval Cherlow, dean of Yeshivat Hesder Petah Tikva, said the AG’s disqualifying of Rabbi Eliyahu “crossed some serious red lines.”

Noting that he and Rabbi Eliyahu have had great disagreements on several issues, and despite the fact that the same rabbi had written “ugly, public things” about him, and even though Rabbi Cherlow absolutely disagrees with everything Rabbi Eliyahu had to say about the controversial issues on which he ruled, it was still a very grave error on the part of AG Weinstein to involve himself in the democratic process over what is distinctly a candidate’s views, rather than his conduct.

Had there been any accusation of corruption against the candidate, the AG would have been well within his rights, even his duties, to disqualify him. But “using the force of the law against views that are unpopular with the powers that be” is alarming, according to Rabbi Cherlow, who went on to call on AG Weinstein to rescind his statement regarding the candidacy.

Rabbi Eliyahu Ignores A-G’s Ruling Him Out as Chief Rabbi

Tuesday, July 16th, 2013

Attorney General Weinstein told Tzfat Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu that the courts probably would not allow him to be Chief Sephardi Rabbi have not dissuaded him from continuing his campaign for the post.

Weinstein wrote the rabbi that his controversial statements, such as, “Must I explain why I am against mixed marriages?, “a number of serial killers have turned out to be homosexuals” and remarks that people in Tzfat should not rent or sell apartments to Arabs would likely not pass the courts if he were to be elected as Chief Rabbi.

The electing body is to vote in approximately three weeks.

Weinstein said the rabbi is an “unsuitable candidate” but did not rule he is not allowed to run.

Rabbi Eliyahu responded harshly through a spokesman, who wrote, “The Attorney General chose erev Tisha B’Av to remove his biased mask to suppress democracy. It seems the same attorney general who justified his grave acts of Knesset Members against Israeli soldiers and has given support to the  head of the Islamic Movement also has court martialed Rabbi Eliyahu and has made himself the prosecutor to and hanging judge.

“Weinstein understood that a majority of the electing body is ready to choose Rabbi Eliyahu as Chief Rabbi and  has decided to break the rules with an unprecedented step, without authority and without a hearing or verifying allegations.

Dirty Politics: Govt. Targeting Candidates for Chief Rabbi

Friday, July 12th, 2013

For the record, I have to state that I don’t think Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu, currently the chief rabbi of Tsfat and a major candidate for Sephardi chief rabbi of Israel, will make a good chief rabbi. He just doesn’t have the sophistication and familiarity with the culture at large that’s a crucial prerequisite for the job.

I also vehemently disagree with his position on Jewish-Israeli relations. Rabbi Eliahu has famously ruled that people should not rent their apartments to Arab students in Tsfat, and that people should also not sell land to non-Jews. “In Tsfat the halachic ruling worked, praise God,” he was recently quoted in Ha’aretz, adding that “neither the religious nor the secular” sell apartments to Arabs in his city.

I disagree with the good rabbi because I don’t think Torah forbids selling or renting to non-Jews. I think he is doing damage to the reputation of religious Judaism by substituting his own nationalistic thinking for our tradition of protecting the monotheistic stranger.

Having said that, I am appalled by the notion that a rabbi, or any person, really, would be summoned to an interrogation of his views by the state’s attorney general, in order that the latter decide whether to approve his candidacy.

This week, Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein sent Rabbi Eliyahu a letter stating, “It appears that your choice to serve at the highest level is likely to be found unsuitable and to raise legal difficulties.”

Among the quotes appended to the AG’s letter was one from an interview with Arutz Sheva: “The Arab students at the Tsfat Academic College must be thrown out,” Rabbi Eliyahu told the website. “Yes I am saying this explicitly and I’m not afraid of anyone – only someone who has shifted his loyalty to the State of Israel has the right to learn.”

A week ago, Weinstein announced that he would hold a disciplinary hearing, should Rabbi Eliyahu decide to run for the chief rabbinate, because it’s a government position.

Mind you, it is well within the purview of the AG’s authority to vet a candidate for high office for whatever crimes and misdemeanors said candidate may be dragging behind him. But to disqualify a candidate for their opinions? What neighborhood of Moscow sprouted this particular gem?

I’ll be very sad to see Rabbi Eliyahu become chief rabbi, because I believe he will play right into the hands of the anti-Haredi media, and just add more reasons for secular Israelis to be disenchanted with the institution of the rabbinate altogether. Anything he will say will be misinterpreted without the benefit of context. He will do harm to the image of Judaism in the public at large, enhance the chasm between secular and religious Jews, and will still not understand what’s all the commotion. This is why I’m delighted that Jewish Home Pensioner Affairs Minister Ori Orbach and MK Nissan Slomiansky are against his nomination. But, alas, the rest of the faction supports him, because they figure that’s what their settler constituency wants. I’m not so sure it’s true.

But the intimidation of candidates for the chief rabbinate is getting not just to Rabbi Eliyahu. On Tuesday, Holon Chief Rabbi, Rabbi Avraham Yosef, also a leading candidate for the office, and the son of Shas spiritual leader Rabbi Ovadia Yosef, was questioned on suspicion of breach of trust in granting kashrut certificates of the mehadrin type to businesses that aren’t so mehadrin.

They kept him for eight hours in an interrogation room over that one.

I’ve no idea how the lost honor and reputation of the Israeli rabbinate can be restored. Maybe they should bring back Rabbi Israel Lau, the last chief rabbi who was also a popular figure with the public at large. I think Rabbi David Stav can do a fine job on the Ashkenazi side, but I’m not sure he has the votes.

These are unhappy times for religious and secular relations in Israel. Add to the criminalization of the rabbinate vote the fact that Haredim have taken to attacking their own kind should they dare don a uniform, and you’ll have to ask yourself why would a secular Israeli have any sympathy for things rabbinic. Of course, one can also stop reading the news.

Jewish Home, Likud Bill to Limit Foreign Entities’ NGO Donations

Wednesday, July 10th, 2013

Once again the Knesset will entertain a bill that calls for limits on donations from foreign entities to Non-Governmental Organizations in Israel. Legislative proceedings of the same proposed bill were suspended in the last Knesset because the Attorney General opposed it, but MK Ayelet Shaked from Jewish Home and Yisrael Beiteinu’s MK Robert Iltov have filed a new version, which, they say, is “softer.”

Under the proposed new bill, an organization will not be permitted to receive donations from a foreign political entity more than NIS 20 thousand (roughly $5,500) in one year, if said entity rejects the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish and democratic state, calls for a boycott of Israel, or promotes the prosecution of IDF soldiers abroad.

Mk Michal Rosen from Meretz said in response that this is a dangerous proposition, which will limit democracy.

MK Shaked told Walla: “It is inconceivable that Israel would allow unlimited involvement of foreign countries which influence its character and values. The Israeli democracy is under a twofold attack: foreign funds distort the power and the will of the Israeli voter and give an extremist minority a louder voice than the voice of the Israeli majority.”

According to Shaked, “This extremist minority is endangering the State of Israel and serves as an arrowhead for a global delegitimization of Israel. This important new law will help dramatically in the fight against this phenomenon and will place a limit on foreign intervention in the internal affairs of Israel.”

MK Robert Iltov added: “There are organizations that exploit and abuse their public status and operate against the State of Israel as a Jewish and Zionist entity. These organizations seek to dismantle the foundations of the state and work to create a false and negative image in the international arena. Therefore it is necessary to reduce their ability to blacken the face of Israel.”

The proposal is expected to pose a challenge to Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu, and to create friction within the coalition. Its chances for passage are low, especially if the new version still fails to surmount the legal opinion submitted by Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein in December, 2011. Back then, Weinstein wrote that “the Associations Law suffers from a defect of unconstitutionality.”

Still, a country that just gave up its 4th amendment rights just to let cops barge into noisy apartments could just as easily agree to suspend its 1st amendment rights for the sake of shutting down those smug, leftist organizations. Of course, this would potentially mean that the Peres Peace Center, which draws its funds from European and American left wing sponsors, would have to rent its main hall for weddings and bar-mitzvahs to survive.

AG Blocks Draft Bill as Haredim Rally Outside EU Headquarters

Tuesday, July 2nd, 2013

It was the first day of summer vacation, and representatives from the Haredi communities of Austria, Belgium, Britain, France and other European countries were bused in to rally outside the European Union headquarters in Brussels, Belgium, on Monday, in protest of the new Israeli draft legislation that will require Haredi men to enlist.

The protesters appealed to the EU to put pressure on Israel to change the legislation.

Rabbi Betzalel Weisz, a rosh yeshiva from Stamford Hill, London, said Haredi Jews were obligated to offer their vocal support to the Haredim in Israel, and to urge them not to give up their staunch position that Haredim don’t serve in the army.

“The aim of the army and the Zionists is not defense but to undermine religion and remove Haredim from the religion,” Weisz said.

The rally was very well organized, in almost military style. The IDF would do well to recruit all these folks, if only as consultants on putting together projects involving large groups of people without accidents. Remember, these are the people that packed thousands into a stadium in Queens to protest the Internet.

Hraedi Rally EU 2

Meanwhile, the path of the new draft bill has been blocked, at least temporarily, by Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein, who ruled that in order to achieve complete equality, the draft law must be clipped of two major benefits for young Haredi recruits: deferment until age 21 and the choice between the civil and military service.

AG Weinstein wrote, regarding the age differential, that “this is a rule that carries with it a violation of the equality principle for recruits who are not yeshiva students, and who are generally drafted by the army at the age of 18.”

When’s the next bus to Brussels?

AG: Following Scandal, Rabbi Amar Is Sole Chief Rabbi

Tuesday, June 25th, 2013

Following the Rabbi Yona Metzger scandal, with the Ashkenazi chief rabbi suspending himself while remaining under house arrest, the Rishon Lezion Rabbi Shlomo Moshe Amar is going to be the sole decider in picking the 10 delegates of the body that will select the new chief rabbis.

So, for all intents and purposes, Israel now has only one chief rabbi.

Feel free to add here “as God intended…”

On Monday night, Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein sent a letter to the Ministry of religious Services, stating that the outgoing Chief Rabbi will have the sole authority to appoint the assembly that chooses the next chief rabbis.

Weinstein made his decision following the announcement of Rabbi Yona Metzger that he is suspending himself from his duties due to an ongoing investigation of criminal allegations against him.

“Under the circumstances of this case, the authority of the chief rabbis shall be vested in the Chief Rabbi and President of the High rabbinical Court, Rabbi Shlomo Moshe Amar,” the attorney general wrote.

Shas officials are concerned now, as one of them told Kikar Hashabbat: “Rabbi Amar will be able to appoint his own people, who won’t necessarily adhere to the decision of Rav Ovadia Yosef, and would vote for Rabbi Amar’s candidate, Rabbi Zion Boaron.”

Other Sephardi candidates currently running for the post of chief rabbi are Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu, chief rabbi of Tzfat, son of former chief Rabbi Mordechai Eliahu z”l, and Rabbi Ratzon Arusi, the rabbi of Kiryat Ono. Rabbi Arusi made aliyah from Yemen in 1949.

Shas is still trying to decide who their candidate will be, and it has come to down to two of the sons of Rav Ovadia Yosef, Rabbi Avraham Yosef, chief rabbi of Holon, and Rav Yitzchak Yosef. Also under consideration are Rav Yehuda Deri, the brother of Shas political leader Aryeh Deri, and Rav Binyamin Atias, the brother of Shas MK Ariel Atias.

But, apparently, these candidate’s future appear murky following the Attorney General’s decision.

On the Ashkenazi side (and what a relief it would be to have an Ashkenazi chief rabbi who isn’t under police investigation for corruption), Rabbi Yitzhak David Grossman, the Haredi rabbi of Migdal Ha’emek, decided not to run for the job, according to Radio Kol Chai. Rabbi Grossman was considered a shoo-in, if only he wanted the job. His absence from the race leaves it open to three major candidates:

Rabbi David Stav, National Religious, chairman of Tzohar and the favorite of the Jewish Home party, whose leader, Naftali Bennett, among other things, is the Minister of Religious Services.

Rabbi David Lau, Haredi, son of the very popular former Ashkenazi chief Rabbi, Israel Lau.

Rabbi Yaakov Shapira, National Religious, dean of the Merkaz HaRav yeshiva.

It is possible that Rabbi Shapira, who is a “Chardal” (the word means mustard, but also stands for Charedi Dati Leumi – Haredi National Religious) will end up as the compromise candidate for the third player in the coronation game, the Torah Judaism party, which is debating at this point whether to support him or Rabbi Lau.

It’s clear that very few among the Haredim are interested in Rabbi Stav, who might just be the only chief rabbi who could bridge the yawning gap between secular Israelis and the chief rabbinate that is deposited with the responsibility for their life cycle events from cradle to grave and has been accused of contributing much to their alienation from their tradition.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/news/jewish-news/following-scandal-rabbi-amar-is-sole-chief-rabbi/2013/06/25/

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