Probe into Safed rabbi’s comments is dropped

JERUSALEM (JTA) — Israel’s attorney general has closed a criminal investigation on suspicion of incitement to racism against the chief rabbi of Safed.

The probe of Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu, who signed a religious ruling against renting apartments to non-Jews, stemmed from anti-Arab comments he allegedly made last year during media interviews. Numerous complaints were lodged with the attorney general’s office over the comments.

The investigation was closed Sunday after the prosecutor’s office said there was not enough evidence that Eliyahu made the comments attributed to him. The statements were not recorded, and it is believed that what Eliyahu said and what was attributed to him was somewhat different. Some reporters admitted that they may have tweaked the content, Ynet reported, citing the attorney general’s statement.

Eliyahu reportedly said that "Arab culture is very cruel" and "Arabs have different codes and norms that have become ideology. Such as the agricultural thefts, which have become part of Arab ideology." Also, "A Jew should not run away from an Arab. A Jew should chase away Arabs," and "Expelling Arabs from Jewish neighborhoods is part of the strategy."

Eliyahu signed a rabbinic letter in October 2010 calling on Jews not to rent or sell apartments to non-Jews. It is believed that the letter, which was signed by 50 rabbis, was directed against Arab college students in Safed.
 

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