Thursday, December 9, 2010

Another Rabbinic Abomination: Jews Only in Safed

The ruling by fifty rabbis in Israel forbidding the sale of homes to non-Jews is an embarrassment almost more shocking, if that is possible, than the acts of religious fanaticism that have preceded it. I almost feel like I need to add it to the sordid list included in my current Jewish Week article, "Optimism Now, Apocalypse later," which has been making the rounds in progressive Jewish circles. The frustration continues to build. Prime Minister Netanyahu has correctly come out opposing this rabbinic ruling. But he has the power to fire them, and to expunge this strain of hatred from his government.

I'm not holding my breath on that one.

Judaism teaches that every human being is created in God's image, every person is imbued with dignity and worth, and that the stranger is to be welcomed in our midst.

Here are some articles from the Israeli media:

Bibi Slams Rabbis' Ban on Renting to Non-Jews
Ha'aretz - Rabbis Forbidding Renting Homes to Arabs Say Racism Originated in Torah
JPost: The Fire is Still Burning - Racism is Spreading
Survivors to rabbis: Nazis wouldn't rent to Jews
Arabs on rabbis' letter: We are losing our humanity
An unholy battle in a holy city
Safed chief rabbi defends ban on renting homes to Arabs‎ - Jerusalem Post
Ketzaleh Supports Rabbi Eliyahu's Efforts to Keep Tzfat Jewish‎ - Arutz Sheva
Chief rabbi starts racism debate in Israel‎ BBC

There is simply no way to put a good spin on this one.

Below is a statement just released by rabbis representing J-Street:

This week’s ruling by rabbis in Israel that forbids the renting or selling of homes to non-Jews is deeply disturbing and represents a cynical and offensive use of Torah and Jewish values to promote a discriminatory, fundamentalist ideology.

As rabbis, we join with Prime Minister Netanyahu and many other Israeli leaders in condemning this racist decision and standing up for the democratic principles on which Israel was founded.

Rulings such as this that pervert Jewish teachings are inimical to what it truly means to be a democratic homeland of the Jewish people – and undermines the commitment to human rights and justice commanded by the Torah and expressed in Israel’s Declaration of Independence.

The rabbis’ decision also violates the basic ideas of tolerance and understanding we expect any religious leader to uphold. To attempt to connect this intolerant agenda to our values and history as a people is both irresponsible and unacceptable.

We hope Prime Minster Netanyahu will move quickly to suspend these municipal state-funded rabbis from their posts.

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