Braverman calls for Safed chief rabbi's suspension

Minorities affairs minister sends letter to justice minister accusing rabbi of incitement and undermining social relations in region.

November 17, 2010 15:24
1 minute read.
RABBI SHMUEL Eliyahu, chief rabbi of Safed.

Eliyahu 311. (photo credit: Courtesy)

Minorities Affairs Minister Avishay Braverman on Wednesday called on Justice Minister Yaakov Ne'eman to immediately suspend Safed Chief Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu for his ruling banning the renting or sale of Jewish-owned apartments to Arabs in the northern city, Radio Israel reported.

Rabbi Eliyahu has abused his position to engage in a racist campaign against Arabs in contradiction of the peaceful spirit of Judaism, Braveman told Ne'eman in a letter he wrote.  He added, the incitement against Arabs harms the social fabric in the Galilee region and Arab-Jewish relations in the area and does not advance the state interests that a municipal rabbi should serve.

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Earlier on Wednesday, Eliyahu told Israel Radio that the religious ban on selling or renting land to Arabs had a basis in Israeli law.

Eliyahu pointed in particular to the Jewish National Fund law which mandates finding Jewish owners for land sold by non-Jews. The rabbi also stated that his religious decree is supported by the government's policy to "Judaize" the Galilee region.

Rabbi Eliayhu's comments came as part of his response rejecting the letter sent to him by 235 Israeli academics criticizing his religious decision to encourage Jews not to sell or rent apartments to Arabs in the northern city.

Wednesday's comments came after the Anti-Defamation League, an American Jewish organization, released a statement earlier this month criticizing the rabbi's ruling to ban the renting of apartments to Arabs.

"All citizens of the state of Israel, according to the law, have equal rights, including renting apartments."Citizens should not be discriminated against for their ethnic background," the ADL statement read.

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