Dozens of intellectuals in Israel call on State to prosecute municipal rabbis who called not to rent, sell apartments to Arabs; say other option is 'dictatorship that will destroy Israel'.
Artists in Israel also protest against rabbis' letter: Protestors gathered at 16 Rothschild Avenue in Tel Aviv, where the Declaration of Independence was read, in order to demonstrate that if the racism continues without the intervention of the local authorities "the state will have no right to exist".
Safed rabbi interrogated on incitement charges: Rabbi involved in racist letter questioned despite saying he would not report to police summons
Dozens of intellectuals, politicians and artists have urged the state to fire the municipal rabbis who had signed the racist letter. "There is an immediate need to fire these rabbis, who are inciting and threatening to turn Judaism into racism, and see to it that they are prosecuted to the full extent of the law," the intellectuals' letter read.
"But this is not enough. The government's weak response (to the rabbis' letter) has fostered escalation and inciting rhetoric, and has created a state of emergency," the intellectuals said.
"There are only two options: a proper, equal, free and normal country or a violent, racist dictatorship that will destroy Israel. Those who choose the first option must act immediately."
Among those who signed the letter are: former politcian Shulamit Aloni, author Yoram Kaniuk, sculptor
Dani Karavan, politicians Zahava Gal-On and Naomi Hazan.
Artists on Sunday also protested the racist letter published by rabbis, calling on Jews not to rent homes to Arabs. The protest followed a formal request for the dismissal of the rabbis, including the chief rabbi of Safed, issued on Saturday.
Some 50 people took part in the protest organized by author Sefi Rachlevsky, including author and painter Yair Garbuz, author Yoram Kaniuk, and Professor Gavriel Salomon. They called the rabbis' initiative a symbol of "racial dictatorship".
Protestors gathered at 16 Rothschild Avenue in Tel Aviv, where the Declaration of Independence was read, in order to demonstrate that if the racism continues without the intervention of the local authorities "the state will have no right to exist".
Garbuz told Ynet that racism is on the rise in Israel. "In my view this, of all the troubles, is the most dangerous," he said. "If racism is not stopped it will be our end and we will no longer have any right to exist."
When asked whether he understood those who feared residing in a mixed-race neighborhood he answered, "Fear must not be escalated. If someone is afraid, that is what the police are there for. You have to be stupid to fear this."
The writer accused the government of ignoring the matter. "Our stupid government should have done something a long time ago. We only have a few hours to stop the racist wave," he said.
Safed rabbi interrogated
One of the rabbis who initiated a letter urging Jews not to rent homes to Arabs was interrogated by police on suspicion of incitement to racism Sunday.
Safed's chief rabbi, Shmuel Eliyahu, denied he had been involved in distributing a flier calling on religious schools not to employ Arabs after a deadly yeshiva terror attack in 2008.
Eliyahu said on Friday that he would not report to police summons. "I asked them if David Grossman, Yossi Sarid, and Shulamit Aloni, who protested against the settlement of Jews in Shimon Hatzadik neighborhood, had also been interrogated, but they said no," Eliyahu explained.
"If I am being accused of racism while they are not – this is discrimination."
Eliyahu was backed by MKs Yaakov Katz and Uri Ariel (National Union), who condemned the "summoning to interrogation of the great leaders of Israel" and the "persecution of the Torah and its rabbis".
"Freedom of speech has been stolen from wizened students by the police and the prosecution, because they believe it is deserved only by radical and post-Zionist academicians, who call on Arabs to refrain from renting to Jews in their neighborhoods," they said in a statement.
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