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Israeli rabbis outlaw renting houses to Arabs

Wednesday December 08, 2010 12:48:39 PM, DPA

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Tel Aviv: Some 50 Israeli rabbis have published a religious ruling, forbidding Jews to let apartments to Arabs, Israel Army Radio reported.

The radio quoted the religious ruling as saying that "a Halachic (Jews religious law) prohibition applies to the renting out of apartments to Arabs".

Neighbours and acquaintances of whoever sells or rents an apartment to non-Jews in areas where Jews live must warn him, keep their distance from him and refrain from business with him, the rabbis said.

The 50 rabbis who signed the ruling include Shlomo Aviner, the head rabbi of the Jewish settlement of Beit El near the West Bank city of Ramallah, as well as of the Ateret Yerushalayim Yeshiva, or religious school, in the Old City of Jerusalem.

"I have to give preference to my brothers, to Jews, so if a Jew needs a flat and a gentile needs a flat, then I should do a favour to a Jew first, rather than to do a favour to a gentile," said the rabbi.

"As is known, there are people with extremist views, who think that all Arabs should be thrown out of the state of Israel," he told Army Radio, when asked why he signed the ruling.

He said he did not describe to that view, but added "we don't need to go to the other extreme and help them root here". One fifth of Israel's population were Arabs and that number should not grow, he said.

The rabbis join some 18 rabbis from the religious town of Safed in northern Israel, who issued a similar ruling in September.

It caused outrage by liberal Israelis, with lawmaker Ilan Gila'on of the left-liberal Meretz party demanding the rabbis, many of whom are on the government pay list because they are head rabbis on city and settlement councils, be sacked.

Israeli Minority Affairs Minister Avishai Braverman, of the left-to-centre Labour Party, also slammed the ruling.

"These rabbis show contempt for the Torah (Hebrew scriptures). They incite, receive salaries from the government and violate all the rules and laws.

He said he would refer the matter to the state attorney.





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