Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein thinks Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu has some explaining to do, in view of his candidacy for the post of chief rabbi.
According to Maariv, Weinstein sent Rabbi Eliyahu a letter Tuesday, in which he informed him that "an initial perusal of statements attributed to him may legally harm his appointment for Chief Rabbi of Israel." The letter was signed by Attorney Erez Kaminitz of the Justice Department, on behalf of Weinstein.
The A-G asked the rabbi to respond to the issues raised, to help him determine if the rabbi should be disqualified.
"You issued a sweeping denial of various racist statements attributed to you over the years," Weinstein wrote, according to Maariv. "This denial is surely important, but we ask that you relate specifically to the quotes, in view of the large number of statements."
Rabbi Eliyahu told the A-G on Monday that he is considering running for the position of chief rabbi and that he has collected the necessary number of signatures to this end.
Following this, wrote the A-G, he has been approached by various people who asked to disqualify Rabbi Eliyahu. "In these requests, it was claimed that in view of the numerous statements by you in the past, which indicate a world view that disqualifies entire sectors in Israeli society, first and foremost of which is the Israeli Arab sector, and in view of the content of the charge sheet filed against you in the past, which was based upon solid administrative evidence at the very least, you are not worthy of discharging as lofty a position as chief rabbi of Israel, and your candidacy for the post should be disqualified," the A-G explained.
Rabbi Eliyahu was asked to urgently respond to 11 quotes attributed to him – and to do so by Friday. "The facts regarding your statements may force us to take a legal position regarding the possibility of your selection to the lofty position," the A-G warned.
Statements by Rabbi Eliyahu that have earned him legal probes in the recent past include: “The Arab culture is very cruel,” and “When talking about Arabs, people speak in codes that normalize violence and turn into ideology.”
He stated that examples of the “ideology” are stealing farm equipment from Jews and blackmailing farmers for protection against thefts.
“The minute you make room for Arabs among Jews, it takes five minutes before they start to do whatever they want,” he also has been quoted as saying.
Rabbi Eliyahu’s statements were made following complaints that Arabs were moving into Jewish neighborhoods and disturbing Jews in Tzfat, one of the four traditional holy cities cited in the Talmud. The others are Jerusalem, Hevron and Tiberias.
Rabbi Eliyahu also has said, “Jews do not have to flee from Arabs. They need to make them flee,” and “Moving Arabs out of Jewish neighborhoods is a strategic act.”