Israeli ministers to attend ceremony honouring rabbi who praised killing of Palestinians
Two Israeli ministers are planning to speak at an awards ceremony honouring a rabbi who praised a 1994 massacre of Palestinians in the West Bank.
Transport Minister Bezalel Smotrich and Education Minister Rafi Peretz will address the ceremony, where Rabbi Yitzhak Ginsburg will be presented with a "Creativity in Torah" award.
Ginsburg has previously written a notorious pamphlet praising Baruch Goldstein, an American-Israeli settler who killed 29 Palestinian worshippers at the Ibrahimi Mosque in Hebron on February 25, 1994. The Israeli government of the time condemned the massacre.
The pamphlet referred to Goldstein as "the blessed man". Ginsburg said that "taking revenge on non-Jews" was among Goldstein's "good deeds" and that what he did was "a fulfilment a number of commandments of Jewish law".
Ginsburg, who was born in the US and is president of a yeshiva - a Jewish religious school - in the West Bank settlement of Yitzhar, has twice faced charges of incitement to racism against Arabs in Israel.
He has previously called Arabs a "cancer" and endorsed a book saying that it was permissible to kill babies during war time.
Smotrich and Peretz are from the United Right coalition of far-right Israeli political parties. Peretz has previously courted controversy by equating marriages of Jews to non-Jews with the Holocaust and promoting gay conversion therapy.
Left-wing Israeli activists are planning to hold a protest outside the ceremony honouring Ginzburg. They accuse him of being the ideologue behind the "Price Tag" movement of Israeli settlers who commit hate crimes against Palestinians in the West Bank and vandalise their properties.
In response to criticism of his attendance of the ceremony, Smotrich called Ginsburg "a genius and a tremendous sage with a Torah oeuvre of incomprehensible breadth".
"You don't have to agree with him on every single thing to believe he deserves an award. God willing, I will be able to attend the ceremony in order to honour and bless him."