The Israeli police continue to act in a shameful, disturbing fashion, in relation to the ongoing investigation against Rabbi Eliezer Berland, shlit”a.
Yesterday, we witnessed another escalation in the attempts of the police to produce ‘evidence’ against Rabbi Berland, by resorting to more under-handed maneuvers and outright extortion against many of the people who are close to him.
A letter was sent to the Chief of Police in the Jerusalem District, Chief Doron, by one of the lawyers representing one of the Rabbi’s gabbaim (attendants) from Shuvu Banim by Attorney Carmelli.
The letter referred to “a vile and unfitting investigation exercise, the sole purpose of which was to abuse [the attendant while he’s being kept] in detention, by trying to harm what is most dear to him, in order to break his spirit.” (from the letter sent yesterday).
Attorney Carmelli was referring to an attempt by the Israeli police to extort false evidence out of B.B. one of the Rav’s attendants. The attendant was told that if he didn’t agree to turn ‘State’s Witness’ against the Rav, that the welfare authorities would come to his home, and take his son away from him.
This same threat was subsequently made to N.B. another one of the attendants being held who was told that if he doesn’t agree they will take his grandchildren away from their parents.
It seems as though the Israeli Police are prepared to scrape the very bottom of the barrel, and to throw all ethics to the wind, in their attempts to manufacture some ‘evidence’ against Rabbi Berland.
The Israeli police are trying to create a legal precedent in which a rabbi who promises miracles in return for doing a pidyon nefesh (redemption of the soul) is condemned as a criminal and a culprit.
This is a blatant attempt to try to outlaw legitimate customs that have been part of the fabric of orthodox Jewish life for centuries.
This is part of the ongoing process to suppress Jewish religious freedom in the State of Israel.
The Rav never kept money for himself and never even owned a bank account in his life. Whatever was given to him was immediately dispersed to tzedaka and the Rav had a minhag not to hold on to any money from one day to the next. He’s totally disconnected from having anything to do with bank accounts or credit cards for his own needs, he simply has no desire for money.
The Israeli Police understand that they have absolutely nothing in their hands that shows that the Rav takes any money for himself, and so they are trying a different tack, one borrowed from the Sicilian Mafia:
Maximum pressure the attendants, extortion and threats on whatever is important to them, including having their children taken away from them, in order to get them to say something that they could use to incriminate Rabbi Berland.
It boggles the mind that the Israeli Police are holding an elderly, ill, 83 yr old man in prison – often handcuffing him and frequently with-holding food, not allowing him to receive proper medical attention – while they try to manufacture evidence against him of financial misdemeanors.
What’s even more shocking is that Rabbi Berland passed out during interrogations and then underwent a difficult heart operation in the hospital while being held in custody and the police handcuffed him to the hospital bed! Immediately after the operation, when he was supposed to rest a recover they took him to Ramla Prison in the back of a prison van made for criminals only to bring him back to Jerusalem the next morning to court, and then back to Ramla for a 4 hour interrogation again. The Rav was denied food at this time from 7:30pm until after 3:00pm the next afternoon. All this in order to try and break his spirit to admit to things he didn’t do.
This situation is demonstrating how civil rights in the State of Israel are continuing to erode at a shocking and frightening pace. Why does Rabbi Berland need to be held in prison, while this case is investigated? Why – at the very least – can’t he be released to house arrest while the investigation and trial continues? He has not been convicted of any crime.
Why is the case continuing to be ‘tried’ in the media, where false rumor and innuendo are all that is required for a guilty verdict, instead of in court, where real evidence must be presented and real facts cross-checked?
And the last question, for now, is perhaps the most disturbing of all:
When is the religious community in Israel going to wake up, and to realize that what’s going on against Rabbi Berland and Shuvu Banim is just the prototype for a much wider campaign of suppression and persecution aimed at the Torah world?
There is a long battle ahead of us, please help us cover the Rabbi’s legal expenses by clicking the following link: