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Monday, December 13, 2010

More politicians want to fire the rabbis

Minister without portfolio and MK Benny Begin (Likud) has come out strongly against the rabbis who signed a letter calling on the public not to sell or rent real estate to Arabs.
“One must differentiate between the legal and public situation,” Begin told The Jerusalem Post, stressing the public significance of such a discriminatory letter. “From a moral-public point of view, the city rabbis should not be able to continue to proceed carrying on their public responsibilities, if they do not retract their letter, as some have already done.”

While not elected by the public, they are publicly appointed figures who serve in official positions as municipal rabbis, Begin said.

“It would be morally-publicly impossible for them to continue in their official positions on behalf of the public,” he said, reiterating a similar statement he made on Thursday morning, before [Attorney General Yaakov] Weinstein made his announcement [that he was opening an investigation. CiJ] public.

When asked if the public might side with the rabbis on this issue, as suggested by a few recent polls, Begin explained that the rabbis were appointed by the state, the establishment, which is against such sentiment.

As for the polls, well, it might be that “once again I am in disagreement with the public,” he said.

In response to a question from the Post about what practical measures the government might take against these rabbis, Begin replied that “first of all, we must respond, publicly, to indicate to the public, to the Arab sector, that we do not agree with the letter.”
It also turns out that Rabbi Ovadiah Yosef has refused to sign the letter.
A group of right-wing activists recently approached head of Shas’s Council of Torah Sages Rabbi Ovadia Yosef in an attempt to convince him to add his signature to the letter against renting or selling land in Israel to non-Jews, Channel 2 reported Sunday night.

According to the report, the senior Sephardi adjudicator refused to sign, and told the activists that it was “an unnecessary and harmful petition, such statements shouldn’t be made, next thing we know Jews in London and Paris will be told the same thing.”
Meanwhile, National Union Chairman Yaakov Katz has written a letter to Attorney General Weinstein.
“My bewilderment comes as we have never heard you similarly instructing your attorneys to examine criminal elements in the declarations of radical-left public figures, who demonstrate and ceaselessly that homes in Jerusalem should not be sold or rented to Jews,” Katz wrote. “The perplexity is even greater, since your office is in the Shimon Hatzadik [Sheikh Jarrah] neighborhood, where weekly such demonstrations take place.”

Katz urged Weinstein’s swift response, “to refute the sentiments within the public I represent,” which might “feel that you are continuing the path your predecessors led and the dominant line among your attorneys, which displays hatred and persecution against anything that smacks of Judaism and Torah.”
Yes, the attorney general's office is known to lean strongly left and secular.

In the meantime, the controversy is escalating, with another organization opening up an office to 'out' Jews who sell or rent land to Arabs.
The Lehava anti-assimilation organization announced on Sunday that it is opening a telephone center against the phenomenon of Jews selling or renting homes to Arabs. The announcement follows the rabbinical statement of opposition to such sales or rentals that has been signed by hundreds of rabbis and educators.

People calling 052 225 8183 will hear a recorded message in Hebrew telling them to leave details about people selling or renting their homes to Arabs. Lehava will then verify the information and publish the names of the people on a monthly basis.
Hey if selling or renting your home to an Arab is nothing of which to be ashamed, no one should mind if the fact that they do so is made public, right?


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At 4:02 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

One wonders who there were no Arab comrades in the socialist kibutzim found before and after the establishment of the state.

One wonders.

At 4:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Carl, sorry--to publish the names is implicitly to invite action against them--well not implicitly, the campaign invites shaming and confrontation. The nationalist camp might consider it is pushing sensitive buttons across the wider secular-religious fault lines and inviting kulturkamp imo.

At 6:12 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

As a recent poll in Israel, reported here, showed, more citizens want to fire the politicians.

At 7:42 PM, Blogger Juniper in the Desert said...

They deserve to be published: more cancerous attacks on Israel! Is it better NOT to name your enemies? How then do you fight them??

At 10:52 PM, Blogger Red Tulips said...


I have to very much disagree with your stance on this.

Frankly speaking, the rabbis in question were openly racist. Their stated reason that they gave for saying it was against Halacha to sell or rent to Arabs is that they lower property values, cause intermarriage, and "don't have the same way of life." The same justification was used against African Americans in the USA, as reason to not sell or rent to them.

Even if it is true that Arabs lower property values and causes intermarriage (which is certainly plausible), if you take that information outside of the context of the hate education/incitement and the death penalty for renting/selling to Jews, then I don't see that as justification for the ban on renting/selling to Arabs. After all, it is also true, sad as it is, that an influx of African Americans into a neighborhood also lower property values and causes intermarriage.

Arabs in Israel are not the same as African Americans, for a whole host of reasons (and I am not saying they are). But the underlying justification that 50 municipal rabbis (whose jobs are paid for by the state!) gave was rank bigotry. It really looks bad for Judaism for a rabbi, who is called a "chief rabbi" of a community, to say that Judaism is a racist religion. I would also like to add that the whole bruhaha is made extra offensive, because in fact Arabs are given the death penalty for selling or renting to Jews - and yet this fact is ignored when a rabbi says the Torah is "racist." I would not have minded as much as I do, if the rabbis in question said they were against the selling or renting of land to Arabs until Arabs can sell/rent to Jews without being killed. But instead, what was said was pure bigotry.

Anyway, Netanyahu condemned these statements, which is a good thing. However, the damage was already done. Sometimes the worst wounds are the self-inflicted ones.

At 4:45 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

problem is "attacking your enemies" in this case is what? burning out the Arabs? beating up Jewish property owners or landlords who rent to Arabs? if folks remember, ultra-orthodox communities (Neturi Karta in Jerusalem, Satmar in the states) have descended into internecine rioting over dissatisfaction with the wrong kind of people moving into the neighborhood....

At 6:22 AM, Blogger NormanF said...

Israel's politicians are afraid of the Arabs - as witness their failure to enforce Israeli sovereignty in the face of Arab lawlessness, illegal encroachment and theft. The Attorney General office is never bothered to investigate and prosecute those crimes. But it is stirred when Jews don't want those Arabs disrupting their peaceful neighborhoods - as long they are not leftist, of course.


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