Wednesday, December 08, 2010

Pot Calls The Kettle Black

Forty municipal Rabbis in Israel have signed an open letter calling on Israeli Jews to refuse to sell or rent property to non-Jews including and especially Arab citizens of Israel.

Thankfully this has met with some - though hardly massive - protest in Israel. At least one leading Haredi Rabbi has dissented, saying ""What if there was a similar call in Berlin against renting properties to Jews?"
President Shimon Peres, and Prime Minister Bibi Netanyahu have also issued statements against the Rabbis' call.
But wait! How is the forty Rabbis' call any different than the day to day practice of Israel's largest non-governmental land owner - the Jewish National Fund (JNF)? It has for years refused to lease properties to Israeli Arabs, and has spent millions of shekels defending this practice in Israeli courts. Even when it loses, it appeals and delays, delays delays.
And how is this racist call different in spirit than a new law introduced by Netanyahu's government that allows communities of under 500 families (approx 2500 people) to establish "acceptance" committees that must aprove all sales and rentals of properties within the community, in order to "preserve the demographic character of the community." This law is universally understood to have been designed to prevent Arabs in the Gallillee from moving into the many small Jewish only towns set up over the years to "Judaize" the Gallillee and prevent the expansion of Arab villages.
The hypocrisy is just dripping off of Netanayahu and Peres. If they were serious about condemning what these Rabbis are calling for, they would have them all fired. Each one of them is a State employee, serving as the salaried chief municipal Rabbi in such communities as Safed, Carmiel, Ramat Hasharon, Ashdod, and my old home town of Rehovot. Municipal Rabbis are appointed through the Prime Minister's office. After they fired these racist Rabbis, they would withdraw the "Small Community's Acceptance Committee Law." and after that they would vigorously enforce court rulings requiring the JNF to lease lands to Israeli Arabs.
But they don't and they won't. Because they don't really disagree with the Rabbis' call for separation of Jews and Arabs in housing, or for the second class status of non-Jews in the land of Israel. They just object to it bring said so openly and boldly.


Blogger Shmuel said...


You are absolutely right about the hypocrisy. I am also struck by something else, and that is the incredible "hilul hashem" (vilification of Judaism) and "giluy panim ba-torah shelo ka-halakhah" (twisted and unfaithful interpretations of Jewish tradition). The halakhic reasoning (based on 1) pikuah nefesh -physical danger posed by Arab tenants, 2) lo tehonem - the prohibition against selling/renting property in Eretz Yisrael to idolators, and 3) aniyei irkha kodmim - Jews in need of rentals should take precedence) is so shoddy that a first year cheder boy could point out its flaws with both thumbs tied behind his back.

To get back to your assertion regarding the general climate in Israel, I believe that Jewish sovereignty and power have gone to the heads even of non-Zionist poskim (and certainly those of the "national-religious" variety), creating a body of Jewish law that is not merely regressive, but innovative in its chauvinism, beyond pre-modern "illiberalism".

The weak rabbinical reaction to this shameful "psak" (halakhic ruling) is a sign of how deep halakhic Judaism has sunk and how the moral and spiritual authority of its rabbis and leaders has all but vanished. This was not always the case.

6:21 am  

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