Israeli Rabbis Urge Refusal to Rent to Arabs, Echoing Nuremberg Laws
In a move reminiscent of Nazi-era Nuremberg Race Laws, a group of radical Orthodox rabbis led by the chief rabbi of Tzfat urged fellow Israeli Jews to refuse to rent apartments to non-Jews:
Dozens of Israel’s municipal chief rabbis have signed on to a new religious ruling that would forbid the rental of homes to gentiles in a move particularly aimed against Arabs, Haaretz has learned.
The religious ruling comes just months after a group of 18 prominent rabbis, including the chief rabbi of Safed, signed a call urging Jews to refrain from renting or selling apartments to non-Jews.
…The rabbis’ letter…urges Jewish owners of apartments to reconsider renting their properties to Arabs since it would deflate the value of their homes as well as those in the neighborhood.
“Their way of life is different than that of Jews,” the letter stated. “Among [the gentiles] are those who are bitter and hateful toward us and who meddle into our lives to the point where they are a danger.”
The rabbis also urge neighbors of anyone renting or selling property to Arabs to caution that person. After delivering the warning, the neighbor is then encouraged to issue notices to the general public and inform the community.
“The neighbors and acquaintances [of a Jew who sells or rents to an Arab] must distance themselves from the Jew, refrain from doing business with him, deny him the right to read from the Torah, and similarly [ostracize] him until he goes back on this harmful deed,” the letter reads.
What is especially significant about this development is that the municipal rabbis are employees of the State, which means that the nation is, in effect, endorsing their views…unless it renounces them. And so far it hasn’t. The attorney general has refused to take up the matter. Nor has the chief rabbi of Israel, who is technically the boss of the municipal rabbis. Tzfat’s chief rabbi, Shmuel Eliyahu, is among the most extremist in his views of Palestinian Israelis and many are seeking to bring a charge of incitement against him for this and his previous remarks.
Here is the chief rabbi’s reply:
The Chief Rabbinate is responsible for matters of Jewish law and professional issues pertaining to municipal rabbis. Theoretically, the two chief rabbis can summon a municipal rabbi for a disciplinary hearing if the attorney general concludes he has exceeded his authority or acted improperly. Such action has rarely been taken.
Oded Weiner, director general of the Chief Rabbinate, told Haaretz that the institution “does a great deal for interreligious dialogue, worldwide and with the Palestinian Authority [!].” But Weiner added that “every rabbi in his city says what is in his heart.”
Weiner said that in the past, chief rabbis handled such issues quietly with the individuals involved. “I have not seen the letter the municipal rabbis signed,” he said. “When we receive a query from any quarter, I’m sure the chief rabbis and the Council of the Chief Rabbinate will consider the matter.” Weiner said Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger would not take the issue to the council on his own initiative.
Apparently, decentralization of authority works well for rabbis when they wish to permit themselves to express the overt racism that “is in their hearts.” But were a rabbi to be overly sympathetic to Palestinians (little likelihood of that I recognize), then all of a sudden the chief rabbi would invoke the power invested in him to take swift action.
In response, a group of prominent Israelis have demanded the immediate firing of the state-funded rabbis:
A group of public figures, intellectuals and academics have asked [attorney general] Weinstein to immediately suspend any public servants among the rabbis who signed the document, those “who trample underfoot the pledges of the Declaration of Independence on which Israel was founded, turn Judaism into racism and openly break the law prohibiting incitement to racism.”
Israeli blogger Idan Landau and others have noticed the ironic historic echo of the Nazi-era race laws which severely restricted social, commercial, sexual and professional contacts between Jews and non-Jews. Interestingly, Landau displays this 1939 document which allows non-Jews to break leases signed with Jewish tenants and generally seeks ways of constricting Jews so they will be forced to live only in Jewish-owned property. Even here though, the Nazi authorities did not explicitly reject the notion of a non-Jew renting to a Jew. By the time they passed Law 234 (presumably after 1939) though, even this was withdrawn:
Law #234 told landlords that they could no longer rent to Jews. This made many Jews homeless, since a Jew kicked out of his home could not find any other place to rent. These Jews were then picked up by the police and sent to murder camps.
Israeli authorities must address this issue firmly or they risk become facilitators of the kind of racism and hatred which Jews suffered in Nazi-era Germany. And a prime minister’s rap on the knuckles delivered mainly for foreign consumption is not enough. There must be consequences. Isn’t it enough that the Carmel fires have made Israel a punchline for bad jokes, that the country should allow this too to add to the black eye? Diaspora Jewish leaders too have a responsibility to staunch the blood draining from the wounds of Israeli democracy through such wounds.
Do we really want to go down that road (again)?
And lest anyone attempt to argue that these rabbis are pure crackpots not representing anyone, I remind you that the Israel Democracy Institute 2010 survey found that 46% of Israeli Jews said they would be “bothered” by having Israeli Palestinians as neighbors. This was higher than the number which would be troubled by having gay, mentally ill, foreign workers, or ultra-Orthodox neighbors.
H/t to Sol Salbe.
16 thoughts on “Israeli Rabbis Urge Refusal to Rent to Arabs, Echoing Nuremberg Laws – Tikun Olam תיקון עולם إصلاح العالم”
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This is just another sign that ‘hafradah’ is largely present, not only in the OT, but also within the State of Israel. I was particularly touched by this story:
When I read that my city’s Rabbi signed the “petition” the first thing I wanted to do was print the Nürnberg Laws and hang them outside his residence.
What the hell is going on in this country?
Just like what Martin Luther did. I’d love to see someone do just that.
A brilliant idea. I’m passing it on to Israeli activists I know. That’s very creative thinking. Shocking, but just what’s required under the circumstances.
Maybe I’ll do that myself. I just need to get a hold of his address. The point will probably completely fly over the rabbis’ heads and they’ll think it was done by Arabs…
im sorry, but as much as i disagree with the edict (which seems to have little to do with the certain halachic edits regarding whether a jew can sell land in israel to a non jew), to compare the edict with the nuremberg laws is absurd and disgusting.
if you wish to compare it to anything, compare it to municipal laws found throughout the states from its founding up unto the early 20th century that banned sales of land to jews, italians, blacks, asians and other ethnic minorities.
No, I was actually thinking along the lines that YOU are absurd & disgusting. But if I gored yr ox nothing could make me happier.
BTW, we did away with discriminatory property covenants around 40 yrs. ago. And Israel loony rabbis want to start using them. What does that tell you?
Whilst I can often find some justification for many Israeli policies that find harsh criticism on this blog, I have to agree with Richard on this one that the similarity to the Nuremberg laws is striking and shameful.
There is NOTHING that can defend these “rabbis” and the relative silence of other rabbis who were not signatories to the letter.
This is indeed a sad day for Israel, and the only small comforts I can muster up are the fact that these are not elected representatives and only speak in their own name, and the additional fact that some Palestinians also have proclaimed a death sentence on any Palestinian who sells land or housing to Jewish settlers.
The thing is, as long as these rabbis continue to be state employees and the state doesn’t roundly denounce their bigotry, they speak for the state.
If Catholic bishops called on their sheeple not to rent to Jews, and their superiors in the church would just sit on their hands, would you also say the bishops only spoke in their own name?
” . . . that some Palestinians also have proclaimed a death sentence on any Palestinians who sells land or housing to Jewish settlers”
Why did you have to make that final very dubious comparison. Your commentary started out very well, and then as always you have to make some nonsense counterpoint.
You just can’t compare the two things. In case you forgot: the Palestinians are the NATIVE people of this land and you can’t change that whatever you do. They have the right to live wherever they want in historical Palestine. You’re supposed to be a man of law and you have the guts to compare Palestinians on their own land with Settlers in the West Bank. Those Palestinians prevented from renting a house by the “Taliban-Rabbis’ Fatwa” are Israeli citizens, and not illegal settlers.
Why didn’t you do the “Jews-Can’t-Buy-Land-In-Jordan”-trick. It’s all the same.
Behind your ‘moderate’ commentaries, I guess we just have another propagandist in disguise, haven’t we ?
I’m not disguised as anything – you can read everything I’ve written on this blog and think whatever you think, but I simply write what I feel without ulterior motives to defend or attack any side, and don’t think all of the right is on one side, and yes, sometimes even write provocatively to force arguements to extremes.
If what you say ” Palestinians are the NATIVE people of this land and you can’t change that whatever you do. They have the right to live wherever they want in historical Palestine” then that of course includes Palestinian Jews, some of them who trace their ancestry back to hundreds of years in Palestine. But then what do we do with Palestinians who immigrated to Palestine only, let’s say, 80 years ago? Have they the right to own property? Where’s the cut-off point in time?
Is the right to buy property or to live in an area anywhere in the world a function only of having lived there for “x” years or belonging to the “right” race? I don’t think so.
You have the chutzpah to compare the legal rights of Palestinians, citizens of the State of Israel, with illegal Jewish settlers on the 22% of Palestine that – theoretically – still belongs to Palestinians.
Concerning you last two lines, that’s fine with me. In fact, I’m an ‘internationalist’ and don’t really believe in borders. If you’re running for President and eventually win the elections, that’ll be a great day for the Palestinian diaspora. If I understand you rightly, they’ll all be allowed to return home.
I do know that in Israel, you don’t ‘run for President’. That was a error.
Thanks for agreeing w. me. But these rabbis actually are state representative & so in a sense speak for the State, & certainly for their own Orthodox constituency.
The Palestinian land sale issue is off topic & a red herring. Stay on topic. Not to mention that it is complicated by the fact that most land sales by Palestinians to Jews are fraudulent since the settlers & their agents engage in forgery, subterfuge & other devious tactics to gain title to the land as I’ve documented here in several cases.
I call everyone’s attention to Roger Cohen’s op-ed piece in today’s NYT. It doesn’t touch specifically on this subject, but it is one of his better and more important writings on contemporary Zionist Israel and how diaspora Jews relate to it.
Meanwhile, back at the ranch:
Apart from the nonsensical title (compromise with Netanyahu? WTF?), this almost Freudian slip is priceless: