The chief rabbi of Safed has issued a religious ruling forbidding residents of the city from selling or renting homes to Arabs.
Safed Chief Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu said he revived an ancient ruling in response to what he called “questions posed by several residents.”
“No one wants to live next to an Arab from Nablus or Gaza,” he said. “And what you don’t wish upon yourself you should not force upon your friends for a fistful of dollars.”
A few thousand Arabs live in Safed, a city of some 23,000 residents in northern Israel. One of the four centers of ancient Jewish learning, the city had an Arab majority before the 1948 War of Independence.
A city official said the municipality has no special policy for residents wishing to sell their homes and that municipal officials do not want to involve themselves in such matters.
The Association for Civil Rights in Israel said that the rabbi’s ruling violates Israeli law against racial discrimination and that it will do everything it can to fight it.
For its part, the Safed Religious Council has offered legal aid to anyone charged with breaking the law for refusing to sell or rent property to Arabs.