Israeli Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu today harshly condemned a move by a number of leading rabbis who signed on a ruling to forbid renting and selling homes to Arabs. “How would we feel if we were told not to sell an apartment to Jews?” asked Netanyahu. “We would protest, and we protest now when it is said of our neighbors.”Earlier today , a number of rabbis who signed on to a religious ruling to forbid renting homes to gentiles – a move particularly aimed against Arabs – defended their decision with the declaration that the land of Israel belongs to the Jews.
“Racism originated in the Torah,” said Rabbi Yosef Scheinen, who heads the Ashdod Yeshiva. “The land of Israel is designated for the people of Israel. This is what the Holy One Blessed Be He intended and that is what Rashi interpreted.”
Speaking at the National Bible Contest for adults, Netanyahu emphasized that such declarations are not acceptable in Israel.
“Such things cannot be said, not about Jews and not about Arabs. They cannot be said in any democratic country, and especially not in a Jewish and democratic one. The state of Israel rejects these sayings.”
Education Minister Gideon Saar also related to the rabbis’ letter during his speech at the Bible contest this evening, saying that the Torah commands one to have good relations with Gentiles.
Concurrently, dozens of people gathered in front of Independence Hall in Tel Aviv for a spontaneous demonstration against the rabbis’ letter forbidding the sale or rental of properties to Arabs or other non-Jews.
This morning, it was revealed that dozens of Israel’s municipal chief rabbis signed on to a ruling urging Jews to refrain from renting or selling apartments to non-Jews.
In their ruling, the rabbis called on the religious community to voice support Tzefas Chief Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu, who could face trial for incitement against Arabs for initiating the move against renting to gentiles.
Minority Affairs Minister Avishay Braverman has also asked Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman to begin the process of suspending Rav Eliyahu immediately from his post as municipal rabbi.