Prominent rabbi rebuffs top Israeli security agency, here’s why

Safed Chief Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu rebuffed Shabak’s request that he use his influence to calm Jews down in mixed cities before Ramadan in April.

By Batya Jerenberg, World Israel News

The chief rabbi of Safed has rebuffed a request by Israel’s internal security agency to use his influence to prevent violence during the volatile month of Ramadan, Makor Rishon reported.

The Shabak was concentrating on the wrong sector, he told them emphatically.

“There are hundreds of cases of car theft, shootings, stone throwing and uprooting trees,” he told the agency’s Jewish Department, the report said. “First take care of these incidents and the Arab crime that leads to murder. What are you doing about that?”

The rabbi also explained his refusal on Israel Radio’s Reshet Bet.

“I have the greatest of respect for the Shabak,” he said, “and I used to meet with them. But this political department of theirs wants to portray Jews as being responsible for the problems we have here, when 99% of violent incidents are caused by Arabs. Is Jewish graffiti really going to ignite the Middle East?”

“What Jewish crime are they talking about?” he added. “There are lies being spread here, and I won’t be party to their attempts to draw parallels.”

The Shabak’s request came as part of its preparations for the holiest month of the Moslem year, which falls out this year in April. It has been marked in recent years by a sharp upswing of violence against Jews, especially at night, after the daily fast is broken.

The agency told Rabbi Eliyahu that it wants to head off a repetition of the Arab riots last May in mixed cities. Those also coincided with Ramadan, although their main cause was the IDF’s 11-day Operation Guardian of the Walls against Hamas in the Gaza Strip, after the terror organization started launching thousands of missiles into Israel.

When police failed to rein in the rioters — who firebombed cars, apartments and synagogues, injured dozens and killed two people — Jewish citizens came to cities like Lod and Ramle to help their besieged fellow citizens, resulting in several violent clashes.

‘Annoying and insulting’

The department in charge of hunting down Jews who commit nationalistic crimes recently met with Jewish community heads in the mixed cities and asked for information on any local attempts to organize trouble. The report quoted an unnamed security official who was greatly angered by the approach.

“In a civilized reality, I would expect the Shabak coordinator to meet with the heads of the Jewish community ahead of Ramadan to present their threats and assessments and see how the community can be prepared, and not to prevent alleged illegal activity on the part of the Jews,” he said.

“It’s annoying and insulting,” added Keren Eshhar, a Lod resident and member of the Mixed Cities Forum. “I don’t understand how the system still thinks that we are the ones attacking here. It left us alone at home when hundreds of rioters roamed outside and only miraculously did not enter [our homes], so when did we become the risk factors?”