Responding to reports that Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu, the chief rabbi of Safed, may run for chief rabbi, MK Eitan Cabel (Labor) wrote a letter to Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein yesterday asking that Eliyahu be immediately disqualified because of statements he made in the past.
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Rabbi Eliyahu, wrote Cabel, “preached racism for years and acted on it when he said that it was forbidden to sell or rent apartments to Arabs.” He added, “Rabbi Eliyahu consistently takes advantage of his position to incite against a minority that comprises one-fifth of the country’s population.”
Cabel ruled out a possible compromise in which Rabbi Eliyahu would apologize for his statements in exchange for eligibility, calling it “a mockery.”
“No apology can repair the damage the rabbi’s statements caused, nor can sweet talk solder up the rift he created between the Jewish and Arab populations,” Cabel said.
“Rabbi Eliyahu is absolutely unfit to run for Sephardi chief rabbi,” Cabel wrote. “The position is too important to entrust to one motivated by hatred of the other, extreme nationalism and racism.”
He added that disqualifying Rabbi Eliyahu would “convey a clear message to the Jewish and Arab populations that the State of Israel has zero tolerance for racist statements and actions.”