TEL AVIV (JTA) — A haredi Orthodox rabbi who encouraged assassination of Israeli politicians in a speech to yeshiva students has retracted his remarks.
In a recorded speech, Rabbi Rabbi Nissan Kaplan of Jerusalem’s prominent Mir Yeshiva equated Israel’s current political leadership to Amalek, the biblical enemy Jewish law traditionally commands Jews to eradicate.
The comparison follows passage of a law in March that includes haredi men in Israel’s military draft, from which they were previously exempt. Haredi leaders have vehemently opposed the law and organized a protest against it that drew hundreds of thousands of people in March.
“We have today Haman and Amalek, all this government, and really the way is to take knives and to kill them,” Kaplan said, attributing the statement to leading haredi Rabbi Aharon Leib Shteinman. “So why are we not doing it? Because, he said, I don’t know yet who is the general who could run the war. But if I would know who’s the general, we’d go out with knives. This is what Rav Shteinman said.”
According to the Jerusalem Post, Kaplan retracted the remarks and said that he and Shteinman hadn’t met for six months.
“I am completely against such words,” Kaplan told the Post. “They’re disgusting. I regret what I said and I am deeply sorry for using such examples. I am also sorry for hurting people’s feelings and I hope they can forgive me.”