Tzfat's chief rabbi, Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu, explained Wednesday that the ancient city is fighting a Saudi-financed invasion, after Labor MK Daniel Ben-Simon launched an unprecedentedly rude attack on the rabbi.
Speaking in the Knesset plenum, Ben Simon said: “This rabbi... this insane rabbi... this recidivist... every once in a while he comes out with his mantra in a city in which people coexist.” Ben-Simon said Rabbi Eliyahu should be “isolated” because of his opinions regarding Arabs. Ben-Simon may be referencing Israeli journalists' undeclared decision in 1984 to cease reporting about Rabbi Meir Kahane when he became too powerful, in their opinion.
Ben-Simon's attack reflects the Israeli Left's long-held view that any criticism of Arabs by Jews is motivated by “racism.” The Left often equates the Jewish-Arab struggle in Israel to tensions in the segregated South in the US, or to the South African apartheid regime, with Jews in the role of whites.
Rabbi Eliyahu appeared unfazed by the vitriol. “Some people,” he said, “are swept away by the UN motto that Zionism is a form of racism.”
"People need to know that there is a quiet war going on here,” he told Arutz Sheva's Hebrew-language news magazine. “The war today is a war against Saudi and anti-Semitic money and they are buying another parcel of land, another house and another goat” [a reference to the old-time Zionist precept of patiently redeeming the Land of Israel with “another parcel of land and another goat. - ed.].
"They are trying to break us with this money. The state is doing nothing. We cannot sit back passively when they are trying to take us over and offering endless sums of money for every apartment in Tzfat and other places.”
“The law does not apply” to the Arabs in the Negev and Galilee either, he said with pained sarcasm, “and Jewish MKs attack whoever defends them instead of giving him a hand.”
"The same thing happened with soldiers in 'Cast Lead,' the soldiers who fought on board the Marmara... [the leftists] fight against anyone who struggles for the Jewish identity of the Land.”
"We are not taken aback,” he intoned. “We hurt for them, we are sorry about them. In our eyes, Zionism is a source of pride, it is an expression of the Torah. I am proud that I was attacked over uttering words of Torah.”
MK Michael Ben-Ari (National Union) had words of support for Rabbi Eliyahu and the Jewish residents of Tzfat Wednesday. He said that “the Tzfat affair is not the first of its kind in the Galilee.”
"The ongoing taking over of Jewish land in Tzfat and the Galilee is not sporadic," he said, "but a trend that is funded by the Islamic Movement, which wants to see Israel destroyed.”