About a half year ago, Rabbi Elitzur Segal was found guilty of insulting a public official for a harsh column published against former IDF Chief Rabbi Brigadier-General Yisrael Weiss. The article spoke of Rabbi Weiss’ role in the 2005 expulsion of Jews from Gush Katif and northern Shomron. The magistrate court sentenced him to probation, fined him 3,000 NIS and instructed him to compensate Rabbi Weiss with 4,000 NIS.
The article written by Segal was published by Manhigut Yehudit on its website. The article addressed morality in combat, modesty, Shabbos, kashrus and the expulsion of Jews from their homes by the government. Segal explained that Rabbi Weiss was a full partner in the expulsion. About 18 months after being published, police showed Rabbi Weiss the article and this led to a criminal indictment.
It should be added that since the tragic implementation of the Disengagement Plan, Rabbi Weiss has apologized publically on a number of occasions for his role in ousting Jews from their homes.
Following his conviction, Rabbi Segal appealed his conviction but it was rejected, with the court explaining Rabbi Segal crossed the acceptable line of criticism with his article. The court added however “The offense of which he was convicted is an offense that violates freedom of expression, but the punishment should be avoided for its does more harm than necessary.” The court was referring to the six month probationary jail term.
The six month probationary sentence was reduced to 30 days. The court added “The protected value is to maintain the functioning of public employees and public service in general but insults were leveled at a specific person. The compensation made to him is adequate.”
Rabbi Segal is now contemplating filing a petition with the High Court of Justice, alarmed with the conviction for simply reporting the truth as it stands.
(YWN – Israel Desk, Jerusalem)