Moral Low Ground

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Dozens of Top Israeli Rabbis Forbid Renting to Non-Jews

Avineri = Racist.

Dozens of chief municipal rabbis throughout Israel have signed a religious ruling that forbids Jews to rent homes to gentiles, especially Arabs.

The edict is not the ranting of some fringe extremists; in addition to the many leading local rabbis, top national rabbis like Shlomo Avineri, Yosef Shalom Elyashiv and Yaakov Yosef also signed on to the racist ruling. It states that renting to non-Jews and Arabs will have a detrimental effect on property values and admonishes friends and neighbors of anyone who rents to an Arab to shun the “offending” individual until he or she “goes back on this harmful deed.” Jews renting to Arabs will also be forbidden from religious gatherings.

This odious ruling reeks of the anti-Arab racism that pervades much of Israeli society. Shmuel Eliyahu, the influential chief rabbi of Safed, a city of 30,000, was quoted on Israel National News explaining the ban on renting to Arabs: “When a non-Jew moves in, residents begin to worry about their children, about their daughters. Many Arab students have been known to date Jewish girls,” he said.

Israeli and international civil rights advocates are blasting the ruling, calling on Israel to fire rabbis who signed the edict. Municipal rabbis are paid by the state.

“Rabbis who are civil servants have an obligation to the entire public, including Israel’s Arab citizens,” a statement from The Association for Civil Rights in Israel read. “It is unthinkable that they would use their public status to promote racism and incitement.”

Amnesty International also condemned the ruling, saying it “clearly targets the Palestinian citizens who make up 20% of Israel’s population, and highlights the continuing discrimination they face in housing and other areas.”

Moral Low Ground joins Amnesty in reminding the Israeli government of its obligations under international human rights treaties that “prohibit discrimination on the grounds of race, ethnicity and religion.”

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2 Comments

  1. mike DoughertyDecember 8, 2010 at 8:45 amReply

    Is this really the face Isreal wants to present itself with to the rest of the world?

    • BrettDecember 8, 2010 at 8:49 amReplyAuthor

      In fairness, Prime Minister Netanyahu has condemned the rabbis’ ruling as incompatible with the values of a democratic society. But like everything else in the Israel-Palestine conflict, facts on the ground speak louder than words.

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