Following an announcement by the Attorney-General that Rabbi Eliyahu, the Municipal Rabbi of Tsfat, has been short listed for the position of Chief Sephardic Rabbi, ACRI reiterates that in light of his extremely racist public statements, Rabbi Eliyahu is not even worthy of his current position.
Earlier in the year, the Association for Civil Rights in Israel appealed to the Minister of Justice, MK Tzipi Livni, to open disciplinary proceedings against Rabbi Eliyahu for repeated racist incitement and conduct unbecoming a public servant. Among other things, Rabbi Eliyahu had been quoted as stating that “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 “driving Arabs out of Jewish neighborhoods is strategic policy.” In response to ACRI’s request, the Minister of Justice made clear that she is strongly opposed to the statements made by the Rabbi, and that she intends to consider the best course for dealing with the matter.
According to ACRI Attorney Avner Pinchuk, “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. This is true for the position of Municipal Rabbi of Tsfat, the position currently held by Rabbi Eliyahu, and it is baffling to think that this behaviour is being reinforced by attempting to nominate him to be Chief Sephardic Rabbi. Even if Rabbi Eliyahu were to apologize, as he has done in the past to escape criminal charges, the thought of him being appointed as Chief Rabbi of Israel is a horrifying prospect.”
Attorney Pinchuk further noted that “the police investigation into the matter of Rabbi Eliyahu’s racist statements ended in a decision not to prosecute, but that does not excuse his racist outbursts. The Attorney-General should publish the conclusions of the investigation so that the public can be aware of the police’s findings.”