An unholy battle in a holy city

Safed is known for its kabbalistic heritage and holy sites, but amidst all the treasures, the city is making news as a hotbed of anti-Arab sentiment.

By LARRY DERFNER
November 19, 2010 12:16
Zvieli and Eliahu's shared balcony

Safed balcony. (photo credit: Marc Israel Sellem)

By pure coincidence, the main opposing forces in Safed’s latest anti-Arab flare-up are next-door neighbors. One is Eli Zvieli, 89, who became a target of threats and public denunciations after he rented an apartment to three Beduin college students last month. The other is Safed Chief Rabbi Shmuel Eliahu, who vehemently repeated his decade-old call on Jews to refuse to rent to Arabs. They live in adjoining stone houses in the heart of the Old City and even share a rooftop balcony, divided by a low gate.

Eliahu, who moved into his house about 15 years ago, says the two have always enjoyed peaceful neighborly relations and, on a personal level, “have complete respect for each other.”

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