Sticking closely to the theme of my last entry “An Experiment in Anti-Semitism vs. Anti-Arab Racism”, here is yet another incidence of a leading Israeli rabbi inciting ethnic hatred against Arabs. In this case it was the head rabbi in the city of Safed. During a radio interview with Israel Radio he called on Jewish homeowners to refrain from renting apartments to Arabs. As a side note, this piece of news was reported in Haaretz, the Israeli daily. It is odd, as many commentators note, that such news does not make it to the Western Press. However, we know why: criticism of Israel’s brutal military occupation is not allowed. See below for the link and full news article.
Court indicts Safed chief rabbi on charges of racial
By Eli Ashkenazi, Yuval Yoaz and Yair Ettinger
1 February 2006
An indictment was filed Wednesday morning at the Nazareth Magistrate’s Court against Shmuel Eliyahu, head rabbi of the northern city of Safed, after anti-Arab statements he made to various media outlets.
Attorney General Menachem Mazuz ordered last May that an investigation be opened on Eliyahu, son of former chief rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu. The younger Eliyahu is suspected of racial incitement after he called on homeowners in an interview with Israel Radio to refrain from renting apartments to Arabs.
In the interview, which took place in August 2004, Eliyahu said, “You can say the word ‘racist’ twenty times and I won’t be moved. It’s forbidden in Jewish law, by the way, to sell apartments to Arabs and to rent apartments to Arabs.”
Attorney Elhan Nahhas-Daud of Mossawa, The Advocacy Center for Arab Citizens in Israel, asked Mazuz to launch the probe against the rabbi, saying, “It is inconceivable for the state to sit with its hands folded in the presence of a blatant violation of the law by one of its senior officials.”
When the decision to launch the investigation was taken, Eliyahu said in response, “The halakha remains valid… They are trying to tie the legs of disengagement opponents, which says something about the purity of the attorney general’s intentions.”
Eliyahu’s radio interview did not mark the first time accusations of racism were made against him. In the past, Eliyahu has called for the transfer of the Israeli Arab population. In 2002, after an armed attack on Meron, the rabbi called on the Safed College to halt their admission of Arab students because a female student was suspected of prior knowledge of the attack.
In November 2004, police investigated Eliyahu following a complaint by a resident of Ahbara, the Arab neighborhood of Safed. Four months earlier, the streets of Safed had been plastered with signs reading “Ten Jewish girls are being held captive by Arabs in Ahbara,” and the signs called for violence to rectify the matter.
Immediately after the signs appeared, Eliyahu told a local newspaper, “This is another kind of war that the Palestinians are fighting and we must know how to defend ourselves. We’re talking about 15 to 25-year-old Jewish girls who were seduced by young Arabs … I also know that in most of these incidents, the Arab men in question are married to Arab women, and these girls are taken as a kind of slave, and they can’t escape.”