Israeli rabbi calls for Arafat's death

June 09, 1994|By Los Angeles Times

ARNAQI, MACEDONIA — JERUSALEM -- With Yasser Arafat, chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization, expected to visit the West Bank and Gaza Strip this month, a former Israeli chief rabbi issued yesterday a religious ruling calling upon Jews to kill him.

Rabbi Shlomo Goren said he had made a formal rabbinic ruling that declared, "There is no doubt that Yasser Arafat deserves death according to Israeli and international law. . . .

"It is, therefore, a commandment to kill Arafat, and there is no need to wait to bring him to trial," Rabbi Goren said, in interpreting Jewish religious law. "Every [Jew] is commanded to kill Arafat."

Rabbi Goren's declaration, predictably, was supported by Israel's ultra-right forces, rejected by the left and ignored by most people.

"Rabbi Goren's old age embarrasses him and us," said Uri Dromi, director of the Government Press Office.

"No sensible person thinks we should kill Arafat -- he has become our partner in the search for peace."

Pressed by an Israeli radio interviewer on whether his ruling did not amount to an incitement to murder, Rabbi Goren replied: "To kill Arafat is not a sin or a crime but will bring a blessing to the person who does it and to his family."

Rabbi Goren, who served as chief rabbi of Israel for a decade and before that as chief military rabbi, said Mr. Arafat "deserves killing" under Jewish law "because he is defined as a persecutor who declares war day and night against the state of Israel."

Calls for Mr. Arafat's assassination have multiplied significantly in Israeli right-wing circles recently.

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