Members of the Reform movement, including Holocaust survivors, filed a complaint for libel with the police against former chief rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu Wednesday, following his statements linking the Reform movement and the Holocaust.
In a radio interview given to haredi radio station "Kol Haemet" on the eve of Holocaust Memorial Day, Eliyahu was asked what was the sin of the six million who perished in the Holocaust, he replied: "Those people were innocent, but Reform started in Germany. Those reformers of religion started in Germany, and because it is said that the wrath of God does not distinguish between the righteous and the evil ones – this was done."
Reform movement officials said that following the interview, numerous Holocaust survivors who are members of the Movement for Progressive Judaism in Israel and across the world, had contacted the movement's Jerusalem headquarters and demanded a harsh public and legal response to the rabbi's "inciting words."
However, since Rabbi Eliyahu's statements were made against an entire public, and not one individual, the law stipulates that a civil lawsuit cannot be filed against him. The only option is to file a complaint with the police and demand that a criminal investigation be launched. Attorney General Menachem Mazuz will eventually have to rule whether the case warrants an indictment.
'Rabbi's words - Holocaust denial'Among those who filed the complaint Wednesday was Michael Sheizaf, 68, a member of the Darchei Noam community in Ramat Hasharon. Born in Budapest, Hungary, Michael was six-years-old when World War II ended.
"I'm angry that the Reform movement, and Jews in general, are being blamed for what happened. If you claim that everything happened because God decided to punish the Jews, then what do we want from the Germans?" he asked.
Sheizaf said that in his opinion, Rabbi Eliyahu's words were tantamount to Holocaust denial. "To say that God perpetrated the Holocaust as a punishment implies that the Germans are not guilty of anything. How can a Jew who defines himself a rabbi can even say such a thing… this is a disgrace to Judaism, despite – and even because – he was a chief rabbi."
The Israel Movement for Progressive Judaism said upon filing the complaint that, "Rabbi Eliyahu's words are as severe as Holocaust denial, and the Israeli public must respond accordingly. In this period of the year, when we must stress the things that unite all the sectors of the Jewish people, Rabbi Eliyahu seeks to increase the divide with his ignorance and hatred."
"The Israeli public has had enough of cursing and inciting rabbis and yearns for a spiritual and peaceful leadership," the movement said.