A top official of the Samaria Regional Council defended Sunday an Elon Moreh rabbi for supposedly issuing a veiled threat against Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu over the planned evacuation of the illegal outpost of Migron this week, the online news portal Srugim reported Monday.
Gershon Mesika, the head of the Samaria Regional Council, said Rabbi Elyakim Levanon's comments from Sunday at an event marking the seventh anniversary of the Israeli pullout from the Gaza Strip were taken out of context. Levanon told the gatherers of the event that "anyone who touches Migron will have his hand chopped off, and the prime minister should be aware of that."
After the ceremony, Levanon issued a statement saying he was simply observing the fact that some personal afflictions and misfortune must be attributed to God. "You cannot ignore the fact that those who orchestrated the expulsion [of Jewish settlers] faced misfortune in its wake, time and again," he said. "Look at senior police officer Nisso Shaham, former IDF Chief of General Staff Dan Halutz and former President Moshe Katsav [all three of whom had to step down in disgrace for different reasons]; this also applies to Netanyahu."
Levanon heads a yeshiva in the northern Samaria community of Elon Moreh and is a prominent religious figure. In his controversial speech Levanon also quoted the famous rabbinical saying "there is a verdict and a judge," which means that no misdeed would go unpunished by God.
"I would like to remind all those who have expressed shock that High Court Justice Mishael Cheshin used the exact same words in 2007 when he attacked then Justice Minister Daniel Friedmann over the latter's attempts to reform the judiciary," Mesika told Srugim, which caters to national-religious Israelis. At the time, Cheshin said he would "cut off" the hand of anyone who tries to damage Israel's top court.
Mesika went on to say that Levanon clarified he meant no harm. "Unlike Levanon, who later stressed that he simply noted that God punishes those who go astray, Cheshin did not qualify his statement," Mesika said. "In any event, I would advise politicians to ask themselves for which of these issues God served a punishment — those related to what Cheshin said or what Rabbi Levanon said."