Barak: Rabbis' wives letter is 'part of a wave of racism'

Defense minister also slams rabbis' rent edict, says Labor Party "working on outreach between all Israeli citizens, from all groups."

Ehud Barak (photo credit: Ahikam Seri/Bloomberg)
Ehud Barak
(photo credit: Ahikam Seri/Bloomberg)
Defense Minister Ehud Barak on Wednesday spoke out strongly against a letter signed by 27 rabbis' wives, which called on Jewish women not to date Arab men. He also had harsh words for a petition signed by municipal rabbis calling on Jews not to rent property to non-Jews.
Both letters, Barak said, are "part of a wave of racism, which threatens to carry Israeli society away to dark and dangerous places."
Poll: 48% of Israeli Jews oppose rabbis' edict
"The Labor Party, under my leadership, is working on outreach between all Israeli citizens, from all groups, in the spirit of the Declaration of Independence," the Labor chair vowed.
The rebbetzins' letter, which was reported on Tuesday evening, states, "There are quite a few Arab workers who give themselves Hebrew names. Yusef turns into Yosef, Samir turns into Sami, and Awabad turns into Ami.  They ask to be close to you, try to find favor with you, and give you all the attention in world, they are actually here knowing to act with courtesy, acting as if they really care for you, say a good word, but their behavior is only temporary.  The moment you are in their hands, in their village, under their control, everything changes."
The letter came weeks after a controversial petition signed by over 40 municipal rabbis called on Jews not to rent homes in Israel to gentiles, sparking a wide-spread controversy.