Progressives to urge Mazuz to charge Safed rabbi with incitement

The Israel Religious Action Center of the Progressive Movement (IRAC) told The Jerusalem Post on Thursday it intended to complain to the attorney-general over remarks made by Safed Chief Rabbi Shmuel Eliahu in the wake of the killing of eight Mercaz Harav yeshiva students three weeks ago. In remarks published in the Post's Thursday edition, Eliahu said, "We have to exact a revenge that is so painful, it will burn into their souls the message of all our enemies, that Jewish blood is more valuable than gold and platinum - I am not talking about individuals [committing acts of revenge.] I am talking about the State of Israel, which needs to make them hurt until they scream, 'Enough!' - until they lie sprawled on the ground crying, 'Help us!" The IRAC has filed similar complaints against Eliahu in the past, for which he was indicted in 2006. They first complained to then attorney-general Elyakim Rubinstein about Eliahu in August 2002, after the chief rabbi began inciting against Israeli Arabs after the Palestinian suicide bombing of an Egged bus at the Meron Junction in Galilee. An Israeli Arab student at the Safed regional college had been warned by the bomber to get off the bus and she did not inform Israeli authorities of the impending explosion. Eliahu declared that Arabs should be prevented from entering Safed or studying at the college. This was followed by a wave of vandalism against Israeli Arab vehicles in the city. Rubinstein ordered an investigation but after two years, no decision was forthcoming on whether to indict Eliahu. Attorney Einat Hurwitz, the head of IRAC's legal department, wrote another letter to Attorney-General Menahem Mazuz in August 2004, charging that Eliahu's incitement had continued unabated. Eliahu had been calling on Jews not to sell apartments to Arabs, not to stay at hotels employing Arabs and to prevent Israeli women from marrying Arabs. When still no decision was forthcoming, IRAC petitioned the High Court of Justice. The state replied that it had decided to charge Eliahu. On February 1, 2006, the prosecution indicted him in Nazareth Magistrate's Court on three counts of incitement. However, before the trial began, it reached a plea bargain agreement with the chief rabbi. In return for an apology on his part, the state agreed to drop the case. However, the plea bargain included a provision that if Eliahu repeated his anti-Arab incitement, the indictment against him would be revived. Since then, IRAC has already lodged another complaint with police against Eliahu for allegedly repeating his attacks against Arabs in a speech in Acre last year. Now it is preparing another complaint regarding his latest comments. Meanwhile, the High Court petition is still pending. The court took note of the plea bargain between Eliahu and the state but kept the petition open in order to see whether the chief rabbi kept his promise.