Safed Rabbi to Be Suspended for 'Inciting War Between Jews and Arabs'

Minority Affairs Minister Braverman says Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu is harming the fabric of relations between Jewish and Arab residents of the Galilee.

Minority Affairs Minister Avishay Braverman asked Justice Minister Yaakov Neeman on Wednesday to begin the process of immediate suspension of Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu from his post as municipal rabbi of Safed.

Shmuel Eliyahu
Archive: Lior Mizrahi / BauBau

Braverman wrote Neeman that Eliyahu, whose salary is paid by public funds, has been conducting a campaign of racism against the Arabs for years. He also "spreads his extremist opinions in a variety of media outlets to various audiences, taking advantage of his position as Safed's rabbi to rule against renting apartments to Arab citizens." Braverman said that Eliyahu was harming the fabric of relations between Jewish and Arab residents of the Galilee, and wrote that the issue was not about the legitimate right to express an opinion.

He wrote that by virtue of Eliyahu's position as municipal rabbi he should be representing the spirit of Judaism, which is based on peace. "Moreover, as an appointee of the state, the rabbi is obligated not to work against it. His continued incitement against the Arabs in the Galilee does not serve the needs of the state."

Braverman added that the good relations between the Jews and Arabs of the Galilee is the cornerstone of coexistence and that he could not let "such a divisive individual continue his activities as the holder of an official state post." Calling Eliyahu's conduct "very dangerous," Braverman said the rabbi could spark a "fire that could lead to war between the Jews and the Arabs of the Galilee."

Braverman said he would visit Safed next week and would encourage the Jews and Arabs studying together at Safed College.