‘We’re not far from civil war,’ warns former Chief Rabbi of Israel

Rabbi Shlomo Moshe Amar urged leaders in the haredi community to work with law enforcement and the army to avoid further violence related to nationwide corona lockdown.

By Ebin Sandler, World Israel News

Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem Shlomo Moshe Amar issued a stern warning on Tuesday amid violent protests in the haredi sector in response to lockdown regulations that have closed schools and businesses throughout Israel.

In an interview with Army Radio, Amar warned, “Nothing justifies raising your hand against your brother [or] bloodshed, and we’re not far away from that. There is nothing more serious than civil war.”

Amar made the comments after haredi rioters in Jerusalem and Bnei Brak clashed with police Sunday night when law enforcement attempted to enforce coronavirus regulations.

In Bnei Brak, protesters torched a passenger bus, while rioters in Jerusalem damaged a light rail train. Following the incident in Bnei Brak, the bus driver told the media he feared for his life.

Amar joins a growing chorus of leaders from the haredi sector condemning violence from a minority within the community, with current Sephardi Chief Rabbi of Israel Yitzhak Yosef releasing a video on Monday calling the violence blasphemous and a desecration of God’s name.

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Yosef added that there is no justification for the types of protests that swept Jerusalem and Bnei Brak on Sunday.

In his comments to Army Radio, Amar added, “The rabbis, the heads of the yeshivot [religious schools] and the heads of the police and the army need to speak, [and] really hear one another to try to find ways [to resolve the conflict].”

Amar added, “I’m ready to take part in the discussions. It would be unwise to ignore [the problem].”

According to Yosef, the riots are the product of “a handful of youths who are detached from Torah, decency, and good character.”

“Certainly there is no justification for such serious acts,” said Yosef in his video on Monday. “Those who do such acts in the name of Torah are desecrating God’s name in public. … This minority stains the image of the entire haredi population, the vast majority of whom are very far from behavior such as this.”

The minority to which Yosef referred has ignored healthcare guidelines and lockdown restrictions, and encouraged others to do the same, as the coronavirus continues to wreak havoc in the Jewish state.

Over a 24 hour period on Monday and Tuesday, 100 people died in Israel from COVID-19 and its complications.

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From 2003 to 2013, Amar held the position of former Sephardi Chief Rabbi of Israel, serving concurrently as Chief Rabbi of Rishon LeZion, the fourth-largest city in Israel.