Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu. Moving away from Chief Rabbinate
Photo: Efi Sharir
Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein
Photo: Gil Yohanan

AG: Rabbi Eliyahu's candidacy 'unsuitable'

Attorney General Weinstein informs Safed rabbi he will not be able to legally defend his nomination for Sephardic chief rabbi in case of High Court petition due to his past statements against Arabs, gays

Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein informed Safed's Chief Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu on Monday evening that he would not be able to legally defend his nomination as Israel's chief Sephardic rabbi due to controversial remarks he had made in the past.


Weinstein said in his letter to Eliyahu that he found his candidacy for chief rabbi to be "unsuitable." Nonetheless, Weinstein's stand does not obligate Rabbi Eliyahu not to run for the position, but it could lead to his disqualification in case of a High Court petition.


The Justice Ministry said in a statement that the attorney general had informed Eliyahu that in spite of the explanations provided by the rabbi as part of a written hearing, Weinstein had reached the conclusion that his possible appointment as chief rabbi would raise legal difficulties.


Eliyahu's media advisor, Ronen Tzur, said in response that the attorney general had yet to inform him of his decision, and that once it was received the rabbi would look into it and decide on his response.


The rabbi's associates noted that if the attorney general settled for calling the candidacy unsuitable, Eliyahu could still run and Weinstein's stance may even increase support for him within the body electing the chief rabbis.


The associates added that should the attorney general ask the Rabbinate election committee to reject Eliyahu's candidacy, the rabbi would petition the High Court against the decision, claiming that the attorney general is unauthorized to disqualify him.


13 remarks of racist nature

Last week, Weinstein sent Eliyahu a letter asking him to respond to claims regarding 13 different remarks of a racist nature attributed to the rabbi, including that all Arab students should be thrown out of the Safed College, that "a number of serial killers have turned out to be homosexuals" and that apartments should not be sold or rented to Arabs.


Since Rabbi Eliyahu announced that he was running for the position of Sephardic chief rabbi, the attorney general had received requests to disqualify his candidacy over his past statements, but decided to give the rabbi the option to present his side of the story before making a decision and intervening in the matter.


In closed forums, Weinstein had voiced his opinion that Eliyahu's candidacy was inappropriate in light of the rabbi's racist statements and the national nature of the position.


The police had even launched a criminal investigation into those statements, but eventually decided to drop the case against the rabbi due to "lack of evidence."


Kobi Nachshoni contributed to this report



פרסום ראשון: 07.15.13, 21:31
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