Chabad's mass rally at the Bloomfield Stadium in Tel Aviv last Tuesday has sent Abu Gosh residents into an uproar. The reason: Their mayor, Salim Jaber, was a guest speaker.
Several residents and members of the city council opposition are enraged that the mayor would speak in an event alongside certain rabbis who gave rightwing speeches.
In particular, Abu Gosh opposition members noted that – according to a rightwing newsletter – Rabbi Shalom Dov Wolpe called to dismantle the Olmert government and expressed support for settlers who had taken over a disputed Hebron house.
Jaber spoke at the event, at which some 20,000 Chabad hassidim were present, and promised to undertake the 'Seven Commandments of the Descendants of Noah' (a non-Jew who undertakes them is considered a 'hassid of the world' and guaranteed a place in heaven).
Rally participants told Ynet that "it was the highlight of the evening".
Rally at Bloomfield Stadium (Photo: Barush Blinitzki)
But critics from Abu Gosh are making themselves heard. "What was said there was said in his name alone," regional council opposition member Hussam Othman told Ynet.
"Jaber participated in the event because he likes publicity," Othman explained. "It is unacceptable for an Arab to consort with rightists. It dirties the name of the village.
"The village is a supporter of coexistence with everyone. When an Arab says he supports a settlement, it's simply ludicrous," he added.
'The mayor brought shame on the village'Another member of the regional council opposition, Yusef Ibrahim, said: "It's good for the nation to advance peace and not to pander to extremists.
"We're all against this," he added, emphasizing that his stance was not motivated by internal politics. "We're looking for ways towards peace and coexistence, not the opposite."
"As a resident from Abu Gosh, the mayor brought shame on the village with his behavior, instead of strengthening our ties with the Arab world," said an Abu Gosh resident who asked to remain anonymous.
In response, Jaber said that internal politics, "meant only to slander" were behind the public outcry and that, in reality, there was no reason for outrage.
"We in Abu Gosh live amongst Jews and are a symbol for coexistence. I was invited and came (to the rally) as a good neighbor and as a resident of Israel, in order to honor others," he said.
The mayor said he went to the rally in order to extend greetings for Passover, exactly as his Jewish neighbors wish him during Muslim holidays.
"I didn't change my religion or nationality and didn't sign a petition to destroy Al-Aqsa mosque. I merely signed the Seven Commandments of the Descendants of Noah – these are basic things such as not to murder and not to steal, nothing more," he explained.