Israel's Education Ministry decided Tuesday to close down an extremist yeshiva in the West Bank settlement of Yitzhar because its students were attacking Palestinians and the Israeli army.
Attacks from extremists on Palestinians, on Israeli peace activists, and on Israeli soldiers are on the rise. Shutting down the yeshiva in Yitzhar is an overdue -- but welcome -- sign that the Israeli government may be stepping up to address the issue.
It’s vital that we show Israel’s political leaders that supporters of Israel worldwide stand with them when they do the right thing.
NIF has identified the threat of radical right-wing violence as a top priority. And we’re proud of the work that our grantees do on this front. Just Monday, two NIF grantees -- Banish the Darknessand IRAC -- joined forces to petition the Attorney General to act. They showed him an online article that called on Jews to use terror in response to terror. Our grantees asked the Attorney General to shut down the website and to open a criminal investigation.
The author of that hateful call for more violence happens to be a senior figure from the yeshiva that the Education Minister shut down on Tuesday.
According to media reports, Education Minister Gidon Sa’ar acted based on the recommendation of the Israeli General Security Service (Shin Bet) which presented evidence of the yeshiva students’ violent actions. Two leaders of the yeshiva are also the authors of the book "The King's Torah," which uses an extreme interpretation of Jewish law to justify the murder of non-Jews.
We don’t usually think of Minister Sa’ar as an advocate for progressive values. But he took meaningful action here. Your letter to him reinforces the message that those of us who care about Israel -- wherever we might live -- understand that violence can never be condoned.
Tell Minister Sa'ar that you welcome his action. Yeshivas should be houses of learning; not houses of incitement.
The type of radicalism embraced by this yeshiva is not just wrong; it is also a threat to the fabric of Israel’s society.
NIF works to address this problem by:
- Targeting grants to support moderate, open-minded groups active in Orthodox society;
- Running public education campaigns to raise awareness about these dangers; and
- Bringing Jewish and Arab leaders together to collaborate on building a shared society.