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Leaders of the Democratic Union: Ehud Barak, Stav Shaffir and Nitzan Horowitz.(Photo by: AVSHALOM SASSONI)
Democratic Union blasts R. Eliyahu as ‘racist’ in election ad
Left-wing party slams Safed chief rabbi, alleges his hardline positions will gain greater traction in new, right-wing government
The Democratic Union opened up a fierce broadside against senior leader in the hard-line wing of the religious-Zionist community and chief rabbi of Safed Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu on Sunday, blasting him as a “racist” and warning that his influence would increase in the next government.

In social media posts, Democratic Union sought to make political hay out of Eliyahu’s hard-line, and in some cases far-right positions on various issues, by referencing the rabbi’s closeness with right-wing political parties and some of their leaders.

And senior members of the Yamina political union swiftly fired back, defending Eliyahu’s honor as a respected rabbinical figure and lauding his hard-line positions as “courageous.”

In the Democratic Union election campaign post, party co-chairman MK Nitzan Horowitz said that Eliyahu was “not just your average racist,” accused him of anti-LGBTQ incitement, and noted his vociferous opposition to women serving in combat units in the IDF.

The party pointed out that while in his post as Safed chief rabbi Eliyahu called on Jewish Israelis not to rent property to Arabs.

In July 2018, Eliyahu signed a letter with another 200 prominent rabbis calling gays “deviants,” calling gay pride rallies “marches of abomination” and claiming that LGBTQ activists were trying to “destroy the concept of family and turn perverts into heroes.”

The rabbi has also fought strongly against young religious women serving in the IDF instead of volunteering for national service, and has spoken out strongly against women serving in IDF combat units, even calling for former IDF chief of staff Gadi Eisenkot to resign for having promoted the integration of women into such units.

“If secular people in Israel do not wake up now, this man and people like him will educate our children,” wrote Horowitz, in reference to Education Minister and senior Yamina leader Rabbi Rafi Peretz’s association with the same hard-line wing of the religious-Zionist community as Eliyahu.

“We will rabbis who impose religiousification and homophobia, we will distance them from schools and ensure Israeli children have the education they deserve, free, democratic, true.”

Transportation Minister and senior Yamina figure Bezalel Smotrich said that Horowitz should “take off your shoes before daring to speak” about Eliyahu, saying that his fight “for the completeness of the Land of Israel” and that “saying the truth when it isn’t popular” was courageous.

“You live in stigmas and you don’t have the courage to even meet him one on one and listen,” said Smotrich. “The loss is entirely yours.”

Peretz defended Eliyahu as “a Torah scholar” and “someone who loves truly loves the Jewish people,” and said that Democratic Union was “trying to rake up political gain by deepening schisms, [which] is fitting for condemnation.”
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