The Justice Ministry announced on Sunday that it is closing its investigation
into allegations of incitement by Safed Chief Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu.
announcement said that there was not enough evidence to prove that Eliyahu had
made the statements of incitement attributed to him.
Moreover, there was
considerable evidence showing that his actual statements may have differed in a
legally significant way from those attributed to him.
was opened after it was alleged that Eliyahu had made statements of incitements
against Arabs while rallying support for a Jewish religious-legal decree he
issued banning renting or selling residences to Arabs.
Yehuda Weinstein also appeared to want to close the case, as he believed it had
been opened somewhat prematurely because of Eliyahu’s past statements and
In 2006, the attorney-general investigated Eliyahu on similar
charges, but dropped the case after he apologized for his statements.
most recent probe did not cover halachic rulings made by the rabbi that were
also allegedly of a racist nature.
Specifically, the investigation never
covered the “rabbis’ letter” of December 2010, which 50 rabbis, including
The rabbis issued a ruling in the letter that it was
forbidden, according to Jewish law, to rent or sell property to
At the time the probe was opened, the Attorney-General’s Office
said that Eliyahu had allegedly stated that “Arab culture is very cruel,” “Jews
do not need to run away from the Arabs. A Jew must chase out Arabs,” and
“expulsion of Arabs from Jewish neighborhoods is part of the
Following the submission of numerous complaints about
Eliyahu’s public statements relating to the Arab community, the attorneygeneral
decided to open an investigation into the rabbi on suspicion of criminal
incitement to racism.
At the time, Eliyahu’s office responded that the
rabbi “welcomed” the attorneygeneral’s announcement that there would be no
investigation into the letter, and his “principled stance against intervening in
“The rabbi is certain that an investigation regarding
his various public statements will allow [him] to clarify his position clearly
and unequivocally, which is that the state must act against parts of the Arab
population who support terror, and not against the entire Arab
“The rabbi hopes that the day will come when there is real
equality before the law, especially in the field of freedom of expression of
spiritual leaders, without discrimination between the Right or Left,” Eliyahu’s
The Israel Reform Movement, which submitted the complaint
about the rabbis comments more than two years ago, slammed Sunday’s
announcement, calling it a miserable decision.”
“All Israeli citizens
must protest the criminal racism that guides Rabbi Eliyahu,” said attorney Einat
Hurwitz of the Reform Movement’s legal action center.
director Rabbi Gilad Kariv said that the decision pointed to “a clear policy of
the lawenforcement authorities to grant immunity to rabbis and to avoid
confronting them,” and that the ruling “buries” the legal prohibition on
incitement to racism.
The movement said in a statement that it did not
consider this the end of the story and said that the decision would come before
the High Court of Justice.
MK Uri Ariel, chairman of the Knesset State
Control Committee, said that the file should never have been opened in the first
place and that the Attorney-General’s Office was politically motivated against
rabbis and the political Right.
“This case was designed to injure an
entire community and its leader, and proves that there is no escape [from the
necessity of] establishing a supervisory body for the Attorney-General’s Office
as soon as possible,” Ariel said.