Religious figures and politicians are slamming a statement banning the selling or leasing of assets to non-Jews, endorsed by some 50 municipal rabbis Tuesday.
Chief Rabbi Yona Metzger's office issued a statement stressing that the matter is not merely halachic, as political and security considerations must also be made before undertaking such ruling. For that reason, Rabbi Metzger decided not to bring the issue up at the Chief Rabbinate's Council and will not be endorsing the statement.
Rabbi Yehuda Gilad, who heads the Maaleh Gilboa yeshiva, characterized the ruling as a "grave twisting of the Torah, in a manner that contradicts basic moral and human values."
"We should imagine what our response would be had we heard about such case abroad, where an overwhelming ban on renting homes to Jews was imposed," he said, quoting a Biblical passage demanding that Jews and foreigners be subjected to the same law.
Ramat Gan's Chief Rabbi Yaakov Ariel also criticized the ruling, noting the issue is a complex one and features a variety of aspects and considerations. In any case, he said, "the sale of homes to non-Jews should not be banned."
Ariel noted that Israel's former Chief Rabbi Herzog already ruled that in a democratic state there should be no discrimination against citizens.
"Moreover, this may lead to discrimination against Jews in other countries," he said.
Meanwhile, the Meretz faction chairman, Knesset Member Ilan Gilon, demanded that the attorney general and public service commissioner order the dismissal of municipal rabbis who ban the renting of apartments to Arabs.
"Municipal rabbis are public servants funded by the public, and the moment they speak out like the worst Kahanists, they no longer have a place in public service," he said. "We are witnessing a spreading epidemic of racism and xenophobia, and we should act firmly."
Knesset Member Nitzan Horowitz also urged the dismissal of the rabbis.
"This is racism of the lowest type, which comes from the mouths of rabbis who receive their salaries from their state, yet are only preoccupied with fanning the flames of hatred and ruining Israeli democracy," he said. The rabbis are taking advantage of their status in order to engage in grave incitement that should prompt the launch of a criminal probe, he said.
However, Knesset Member Arieh Eldad (National Union)
spoke out in defense of the rabbis.
"I don't understand the onslaught against the Rabbis who banned the renting of homes to Arabs. Before slamming them, we should examine how many Arabs live in kibbutzim, and reach the conclusion that Israel's Left is adopting the very same policy – hypocritically, without declaring it," he said.