Prejudice in Beitar Illit: 'Ashkenazi renters only'

Neighbors force apartment owner to bar Sephardic renters from property.

Michal Levy ,

Beitar Ilit
Beitar Ilit

Controversy engulfed the haredi city of Beitar Illit Thursday, after an agreement between a property owner in the city and neighbors was publicized by the Kikar HaShabbat haredi news outlet.

According to the report, the owner in question looking to renovate the apartment unit found residents of other units in the building unwilling to provide their approval for his plans – a necessary step in Israel when acquiring permission for modifying a housing unit.

Those opposed to his plans to modify the apartment offered to drop their opposition, on condition the owner of the unit sign an agreement pledging certain concessions to the neighbors.

Included in the agreement is the understanding that the owner of the apartment unit will be responsible for helping to clean the building and ensuring that any renters do the same – and that he not will neither rent nor sell the apartment to Sephardim.

The agreement reads in part:

“I, the undersigned, am obliged to… maintain the building’s cleanliness, and will not sell or rent [the apartment] to those who eat legumes [during Passover],” referencing the Sephardic custom of consuming legumes during the Passover holiday, something which Ashkenazi Jews refrain from doing.

MK Yigal Guetta (Shas) blasted the incident, calling it a racist “embarrassment”.

“It is a complete embarrassment that in a sector of the population [haredim] that fights against [anti-haredi] prejudice and is supposed to best exemplify positive relations among one another, we are exposed suddenly to headlines like this.”

Guetta also noted the use of creative language to avoid explicitly singling out Sephardic Jews.

“Now they’ve found a cleaner way to engage in racism, substituting the words ‘Frenk’ [an ethnic slur] and Sephardi, which now create [legal] problems for them, with ‘people who eat legumes’.”