Peres speaking 311 AP.
(photo credit: Associated Press)
President Shimon Peres issued a sharp rebuke on Wednesday against the rabbis who
published an edict forbidding the rental or sale of housing to
RELATED:MKs, rights activists protest rabbinic prohibitionWhy the call not to sell land to non-Jews in Safed?
In a strongly worded statement, Peres said that the rabbis were
generating a moral crisis that ran counter to the essence of a Jewish and
democratic state, and were thereby doing great harm to the State of
Peres added that he saw no contradiction between democracy and
“All people are created in the image of God,” he said,
emphasizing that this was a fundamental principle in both Judaism and
Jewish and non-Jewish citizens live in Israel, he continued,
and all have the same rights, including the right to be different and to
practice different religions.
Peres called on the nation to preserve
these values of democracy, Judaism and equality, “because these are the issues
that affect our lives.”
Forty-seven city rabbis recently afforded their
signatures to a statement against renting or selling plots to non- Jews, citing
the danger of intermarriage, the potential damage to the religious beliefs of
Jewish neighbors who might be influenced, and the damage to the value of real
estate in the area.
Nine months ago, a similar ruling was issued by Safed
Chief Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu regarding his city.
Rabbi Aharon Leib
Steinman, one of the most prominent haredi Ashkenazi rabbis, reportedly refused
a request to sign a document to that effect, as he perceived it as a provocative
and nationalistic statement that ran counter to the haredi attitude regarding
Amnesty International, in an announcement late Tuesday
night, condemned the ruling, which “clearly targets the Palestinian citizens who
make up 20 percent of Israel’s population, and highlights the continuing
discrimination they face in housing and other areas.”
On Wednesday, the
Anti- Defamation League called the document a “perversion of Jewish and
democratic values”; the National Student Union strongly condemned it; and MK
Ahmed Tibi (United Arab List-Ta’al) criticized the rabbis who had signed the
petition, calling them neo-Nazis.
“I am confident that the number of
[such] rabbis will only increase,” said Tibi, adding, “We are dealing with
skinhead rabbis who are working against the Arabs.”
MK Taleb a-Sana
(United Arab List) called the rabbis who signed the letter “the scum of the
human race” and godless racists during a session of questions to Interior
Minister Eli Yishai regarding the Eritrean refugees, and was ejected from the
plenary in an ensuing shout-off with Yishai and Deputy Health Minister Yaakov
Litzman (United Torah Judaism).
The ADL said that “it is outrageous and
unacceptable that rabbis across Israel are promoting blatant discrimination
against non-Jews... It is extremely disturbing to hear religious leaders – who
are supposed to represent and uphold Jewish values – promote such a prejudicial
course for Israeli society. That many of these rabbis are state employees makes
their action that much more troubling.”
The ADL thanked Prime Minister
Binyamin Netanyahu for his condemnation of the calls not to rent apartments to
non- Jews. Addressing the National Bible Quiz for Adults in Jerusalem on
Tuesday, Netanyahu said that non-Jews were also citizens of the country, and
that the Torah teaches Jews to “love the stranger.”Ronen Shnidman
contributed to this report.