Racism Under Cover of the Torah

Not only are some rabbis not acting according to guidelines, they are using public bodies to incite, inflame passions and provoke divisiveness in Israeli society.

Haaretz Editorial
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Haaretz Editorial

Rabbi Dov Domb, the presiding judge in the rabbinical court in Tel Aviv, added his signature to a shameful and outrageous list of rabbis calling on residents of south Tel Aviv not to rent their apartments to foreign workers.

The Torah has never had it so bad. Under its cover, Domb and his colleagues are masquerading as merciful fathers concerned about the poor residents in the south of the city. They are exploiting a worsening social problem to stoke the residents' fears and incite against the foreigners.

Rabbi Dov Domb

They are joining a lengthening list of rabbis in the public service who are cynically and dangerously using their titles and status. Safed Chief Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu issued a call not to rent apartments to Arabs on the grounds that "the ways of life of the Gentiles are different from those of the Jews, and there are those among them who hate us and harass us to the point of mortal danger." He even held an emergency meeting "against assimilation." Kiryat Motzkin's chief rabbi issued a call not to employ Arabs as a response to terrorist attacks.

These rabbis and many others who preach in synagogues, write in journals and publish racist books are public servants who enjoy high status, a good salary and benefits paid for by the taxpayer. Religious judges like Domb are committed to strict ethical guidelines, like judges, and they are not allowed to make statements on political issues. They are supposed to deal with non-legal matters only "with the appropriate caution required by their position."

Not only are they not acting according to the guidelines, they are exploiting their status and using public bodies and the means at their disposal to incite, inflame passions and provoke divisiveness in Israeli society. They use their titles and public positions for dangerous preaching and to give official cover for their defamatory words.

The justice minister, the religious services minister and the mayors where these rabbis serve must warn them that they are abusing their positions and even suspend them if necessary. Otherwise, they too will bear responsibility for turning Israeli society into a tool in the hands of religious racist fanatics.



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