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nitzan horowitz 311.(Photo by: Ariel Jerozolimski)
MKs, rights activists protest rabbinic prohibition
MK Horowitz says rabbis who forbid Jews from renting or selling property to gentiles "encourage hatred and destroy Israeli democracy."
Knesset members and civil rights organizations condemned the petition released on Tuesday, in which nearly 50 rabbis, including municipal rabbis paid by the state, said that Jews should not allow gentiles to rent or buy their homes.

"This is the worst kind of racism, which comes from rabbis who are paid by the state" MK Nitzan Horowitz (Meretz) said on Tuesday. "All they do is encourage hatred and destroy Israeli democracy."

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"These rabbis are taking advantage of their stature, which leads to incitement," he added. Horowitz also said there should be a criminal investigation of the rabbis, and they should be fire.

MK Orit Zuaretz (Kadima), head of the Lobby to Promote Jewish-Arab Relations, said on Tuesday that Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu should personally fire rabbis who said Jews should not rent or sell property to gentiles.

"The prime minister should be personally involved, should take away their salaries and fire them from any state-sanctioned job," Zuaretz said. "Religious services paid for by the state can not allow themselves to act in a way that harms tax-paying citizens."

The MK added that "we can no longer say that this is a fringe phenomenon."

The Association for Civil Rights in Israel said on Tuesday that Netanyahu should "firmly denounce" these rabbis, and Justice Minister Ya'acov Neeman should order an investigation.

"Municipal rabbis are state workers, and as such they must be loyal to the entire public," the organization's spokesperson, Nirit Moscovitch said. "Government workers can not take advantage of their stature to promote incitement."

Amongst the reasons given for the prohibition are the danger of intermarriage and the lowering of real estate prices in areas where non-Jews live. Gentiles' "different lifestyle from Jews" can endanger lives, they wrote.

Municipal rabbis who signed the petition include Rabbi Yaakov Edelstein of Ramat HaSharon, Rabbi Haim Pinto of Ashdod, Rabbi Dov Lior of Kiryat Arba, Rabbi David Abuhazeira of Yavne, Rabbi David Bar-Chen of Sderot, and others.
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