Dov Lior

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to: navigation, search

Dov Lior (Hebrew: דב ליאור‎‎, born 1933) is an Israeli Orthodox rabbi, who serves as the Chief Rabbi of Hebron and Kiryat Arba in the southern West Bank.[1] He is also the rosh yeshiva of the Kiryat Arba Hesder Yeshiva, and also heads the "Council of Rabbis of Judea and Samaria".[2]


He was born to a Belz Hasidic family, son to Moshe Leinwand, in Jarosław, Galizia. After failing to board the Exodus, he eventually managed to arrive in Palestine, and reach the kibbutz Negba a few weeks before the establishment of the State of Israel, where he changed his surname to the Hebrew Lior. In Israel, he first studied at the Bnei Akiva Kfar HaRoeh high school yeshiva, and then at Rabbi Zvi Yehuda Kook's Mercaz haRav yeshiva, where, owing to Lior's being an orphan, the Rabbi treated him like a son. Lior married Bitya in 1960. She died of cancer in 1988. He later married Esther, widow of Rabbi Ephraim Shahor. Lior has 11 children, 55 grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren. Two of his brothers arrived in Israel after him, and joined the Hashomer Hatzair kibbutz HaMa'apil.

Rabbi Dov Lior (center) in a meeting with students of Machon Meir at his house in Kiryat Arba in June 2008

Rabbinic career[edit]

Lior is a Religious Zionist leader and student of Zvi Yehuda Kook, son of Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook. He served as Rabbi of Moshav Kfar Haroeh for 10 years. He subsequently became Chief Rabbi of Kiryat Arba.[1] He serves along with Rav Eliezer Waldman as Head of the Hesder Yeshiva Nir Kiryat Arba. In 1978, he ran for the post of Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem, but was defeated 37-25 by Rav B. Zolti.[3] He served as Av Beit Din of the Beersheva Rabbinical Court. One of his rulings, that Jews should be prepared to sacrifice their lives to defend the settlement of Hebron, has been interpreted as support for acts of suicide if the government tries to force evacuation.[4] In the late 1980s, Israel's Attorney General barred Lior’s almost certain election to the Supreme Rabbinical Council of Israel following a public outcry over his remark that captured Arab terrorists could be used as guinea pigs in medical experiments.[5][6] After the Mercaz HaRav massacre, he said it was forbidden by Jewish law to employ or rent homes to Arabs.[7][8]

In 2008, Lior and other right-wing rabbis declared the government's policies on Israeli settlements to be "worse than the British Mandate's White Paper".[9] Evaluating the Israeli invasion of Lebanon, Lior said it proved Israel was the one Middle Eastern state with sufficient military force to be considered a real power, a state all nations, willy nilly, must reckon with, and that "rooting out the iniquity (of the terrorists)" was "but a preliminary to the eventual rooting out of all evil in the world".[10] According to Professor Uriel Simon, he is also reported to have said at a rally that, "(i)n order to prevent the death of one (Israeli) soldier, I am willing to destroy all of Beirut". [11]

In 2009, he denounced the possible transfer of jurisdiction of Christian sites in Israel to the Holy See, saying it was "unthinkable to hand over to the Vatican any piece of our Holy Land".[12] In 2011, he suggested that the Israeli government should offer incentives to the Bedouin to return to what he considered as their places of origin, Saudi Arabia and Libya.[13]

In 2011, Lior was called in for interrogation by Israeli police about controversial statements attributed to him in a foreword written by him for the book of a colleague. He agreed to be questioned at his home, but the police issued a warrant for his arrest, which sparked wide condemnation in religious right-wing circles.

In February 2015, he moved from Kiryat Arba to his new home on the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem. [14]


Lior has legitimized by a halakha ruling the killing of non-Jews during wartime.[15] He asserted that Jewish women should not use sperm donated by a non-Jewish man, and that a baby born through such an insemination will have the "negative genetic traits that characterize non-Jews", and that, "Gentile sperm leads to barbaric offspring".[16]

In 2007, commenting on the situation of African refugees in Israel, Lior said that a much more important issue was the situation of Jewish settlers - "refugees" - expelled from Gaza in 2005.[17]

Leading rabbis have testified that Lior was the source of rulings labeling the late Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin a "rodef" and a "moser" (a traitor who endangers Jewish lives). Rabin's assassin, Yigal Amir, is known to have visited Lior. Baruch Goldstein also met with Lior. After Goldstein murdered 29 Palestinian worshipers at the Cave of the Patriarchs, Lior described Goldstein as "holier than all the martyrs of the Holocaust". [18][19]

In June 2011, Lior was arrested by Israeli police and questioned on suspicion of inciting violence for endorsing a religious book, the King's Torah, that gives Jews permission to kill innocent non-Jews, including children.[20] Lior had been summoned for questioning by authorities, but refused to appear. Spontaneous demonstrations erupted in and around Jerusalem as outraged supporters assembled in various parts of the city and on Route 1 to protest Lior's arrest. Israeli chief rabbis Yona Metzger and Shlomo Amar condemned the arrest as a "grave offense to an important rabbi's honor", and 25 members of the Knesset signed a petition denouncing it as "shameful" and as having been orchestrated by Deputy State Prosecutor Shai Nitzan. Lior was released after an hour of questioning.[21][22]

Both opposition leader Tzipi Livni and Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu called for a full judicial investigation of Lior's remarks, and said that rabbis were not above the law.[23]

In September 2011, Lior stated that Arabs are "evil camel riders".[24]

In 2012, Lior called US President Barack Obama a racial slur, "kushi of the West", and likened him to the genocidal enemy of the Jews, Haman. He also compared Western European leaders to Nazi collaborators.[25]

In July 2014, he said it was acceptable to kill Palestinian civilians and destroy the entire Gaza Strip in order to protect Jewish people in the South.[26][27]

In November 2015, during a eulogy at a funeral in Jerusalem for a father and son killed in West Bank, Lior said of the Paris attacks: "The wicked ones in blood-soaked Europe deserve it for what they did to our people 70 years ago."[28][29]


  1. ^ a b Chaim Levinson,'Kiryat Arba chief rabbi arrested following his support of book which justifies killing of non-Jews,' Haaretz,27 June 2011.
  2. ^ 'Hebron Chief Rabbi Pulls Support from Bennett's Party,' The Jewish Press, 4 January 2013.
  3. ^ HaPardes Journal, Tevet 5738 p. 26
  4. ^ Ehud Sprinzak 'Israel's Radical Right and the Countdown to the Rabin Assassination,' in Yoram Peri (ed.), [The Assassination of Yitzhak Rabin,] Stanford University Press, 2000 pp.96-127 p.106.
  5. ^ Gershom Gorenberg, The End of Days: Fundamentalism and the Struggle for the Temple Mount, Free Press, New York 2000 p. 164
  6. ^ Israël Shahak, Norton Mezvinsky, Jewish fundamentalism in Israel, Pluto Press, 2004 p.103
  7. ^ Nadav Shragai, 'Top Yesha rabbi says Jewish law forbids renting houses to Arabs'’ Haaretz 20/03/2008
  8. ^ Rabbi Lior Speaks Out Against Hiring of Arabs Yedioth Ahronoth
  9. ^ Rightist rabbis brand gov't policy on settlements worse than White Paper Jerusalem Post
  10. ^ Aviezer Ravitzky, Messianism, Zionism, and Jewish Religious Radicalism, University of Chicago Press,(1993) 1996 p.84.
  11. ^ Myron J. Aronoff, Israeli Visions and Divisions, Transaction Publishers, 1998 p.115.
  12. ^ Chief Rabbinate: Holy Land assets cannot be turned over to Vatican
  13. ^ 'Rabbi Lior: Encourage Bedouins to leave Israel ,' Ynet,26 April 2011.
  14. ^ 'Rabbi Dov Lior steps down as chief rabbi of Kiryat Arba, to move to east Jerusalem ' jpost,26 October 2014.
  15. ^ Yair Altman,'Rabbi Dov Lior arrested,' Ynet, 27 June 2011:'An arrest warrant was issued against Rabbi Lior a few months ago for alleged incitement over statements published in his book, "The King's Torah", in which he legitimized the killing of non-Jews in war time.'
  16. ^ "'Gentile sperm leads to barbaric offspring' - Israel Jewish Scene, Ynetnews". Retrieved 2012-08-01. 
  17. ^ Sarah Willen, "Darfur through a Shoah lens", in A Reader in Medical Anthropology, edited by Byron J. Good, Michael M. J. Fischer, Sarah S. Willen, Mary-Jo DelVecchio Good, Wiley, pp. 506-21
  18. ^ Rachlevsky, Sefi (2011-07-01). "A racist, messianic rabbi is the ruler of Israel - Israel News | Haaretz Daily Newspaper". Retrieved 2012-08-01. 
  19. ^ Peter Beinart, The Crisis of Zionism, Macmillan 2012 p.23.
  20. ^ "the extremist rabbi who reigns unobstructed". Haaretz. November 5, 2013. 
  21. ^ Manel, Jonah (27 June 2011). "Rabbi Lior joins marchers in J'lem protesting his arrest". Jerusalem Post. Retrieved 28 June 2011. Kiryat Arba Chief Rabbi Dov Lior was detained by police Monday afternoon over his endorsement of a book that purportedly incites violence entitled, Torat Hamelech (King’s Torah). 
  22. ^ Yair Altman; Kobi Nahshoni; Omri Efraim; Oran Azulay (28 June 2011). "Rightists threaten further violence over rabbi's arrest". Ynetnews. Retrieved 28 June 2011. Earlier, Israel's chief rabbis Yona Metzger and Shlomo Amar issued a joint statement Monday condemning the arrest of Kiryat Arba Rabbi Dov Lior. 
  23. ^ Ravid, Barak (2011-06-28). "Netanyahu responds to Rabbi Dov Lior's arrest: Israeli law applies to all citizens Israel News | Haaretz Daily Newspaper". Retrieved 2012-08-01. 
  24. ^ "Rabbi Lior: Arabs are 'evil camel riders' - Israel Jewish Scene, Ynetnews". Retrieved 2012-08-01. 
  25. ^ ''Rabbi Lior compares Obama to villain Haman,' Jerusalem Post,02/03/2012.
  26. ^ Jeremy Sharon,'Rabbi Lior: Jewish law permits destruction of Gaza to bring safety to Israel,' Jerusalem Post 23 July 2014.
  27. ^ Kaufman, Ami (July 22, 2014). "Israeli rabbi: It’s okay to kill innocent civilians and destroy Gaza". +972 Magazine. Retrieved 23 July 2014. 
  28. ^ "Far-right settler rabbi: Paris attacks are payback for the Holocaust". The Jerusalem Post. 15 November 2015. Retrieved 16 November 2015. 
  29. ^ "Controversial rabbi says Paris attacks punishment for Holocaust". The Times of Israel. 16 November 2015. Retrieved 16 November 2015.