ACRI: The Municipal Rabbi of Tzfat Should be Dismissed, not Promoted

This morning (May 21, 2013)  the Association for Civil Rights in Israel (ACRI) sent a letter to Minister of Justice Livni requesting the initiation of disciplinary proceedings against the Municipal Rabbi of Tzfat, Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu, because of repeated incitement to racism and behavior not befitting a public servant. Lately Eliyahu has been mentioned as a candidate for Israel’s Chief Sephardic Rabbi.



ACRI’s request was sent in the course of correspondence it has maintained with the Justice Ministry since 2011, after a series of racist statements attributed to Rabbi Eliyahu, including: “agricultural theft is ideology for Arabs,” “as soon as you give an Arab a place among us, it takes him five minutes to begin doing whatever he wants,” and “Jews should run Arabs off,” among others.


In a 2011 response from the State Attorney’s office, ACRI was told that disciplinary proceedings were delayed because of a simultaneous criminal investigation into the matter. The criminal investigation was closed in the summer of 2012 because of difficulty in proving the exact statements made by the Rabbi.


In today’s letter to the Minister of Justice, ACRI Attorney Avner Pinchuk noted:


Even if Rabbi Eliyahu’s racist slander does not rise to the level of “incitement to racism” in the criminal sense, this doesn’t make him any more fit for the position of municipal rabbi. It is intolerable that a senior state employee uses the standing and prestige of the position granted to him by the country to humiliate and degrade people and trample on their dignity and basic rights. The state cannot sit back while a senior employee in its service breaks the law, incites to racism, and undermines its fundamental values and basic laws. The urgency [of taking disciplinary action] is reinforced by the astonishing news that Rabbi Eliyhau is being considered as a candidate for the position of Chief Rabbi of Israel.”


To read the full letter (in Hebrew) click here.

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Categories: Democracy and Civil Liberties

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