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Court Rejects ‘Cruel Arab Culture’ Suit

The Supreme Court rejects a call to bring rabbi up on criminal charges for allegedly insulting Arab culture.
By Maayana Miskin
First Publish: 9/9/2012, 8:22 PM

Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu
Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu
Israel news photo

The Supreme Court has rejected a lawsuit filed by the Reform movement’s political arm that called to bring Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu up on criminal charges. Rabbi Eliyahu is the chief rabbi of Tzfat and a leading figure in the religious-Zionist world.

The suit alleged that Rabbi Eliyahu should face charges for contempt of court relating to alleged derogatory statements made about Arabs and Arab culture.

A previous criminal probe into allegations that the rabbi made racist statements about Arabs was closed due to lack of evidence.

While the court shot down the Reform lawsuit, it noted that the group could attempt to file suit on new grounds. "Contempt of court is not the appropriate procedure. Of course, the way is open for the petitioner to try a new procedure," judges wrote.

Rabbi Eliyahu allegedly made remarks such as, “The Arab culture is very cruel.” A probe into his statements was dropped when it became clear that the statements, printed in media outlets, may not have been fully accurate quotations.

Rabbi Eliyahu has previously stated that he is not racist. “We are not involved in incitement or racism. We busy ourselves with Zionism and safeguarding the land of Israel, and what we said is absolutely fine,” he said.

The lawsuit “reveals what the [Reform movement] invests in: just persecuting Israel’s rabbis. It would be better if they invested their money in more positive endeavors,” he said.