Smotrich: 'Rabbi Eliyahu is a giant and a hero'

Transportation Minister defends the honor of the rabbi of Tzfat after Democratic Camp chairman Nitzan Horowitz besmirches him.

Arutz Sheva Staff,

Flash 90

Democratic Camp chairman Nitzan Horowitz attacked the rabbi of Tzfat, Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu, on his Facebook page on Sunday, claiming that "Netanyahu is giving this man a license to talk to extricate himself from prison."

"Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu is the rabbi of the city of Tzfat," wrote Horowitz. This is the man who opposed selling homes to Arabs, who incites against LGBTQ people, against soldiers who enlist in combat service, against judges in Israel."

Horowitz continued: "But Shmuel Eliyahu is not just a racist. He is a racist who has a position. He is deeply involved in all the political dealings of the right-wing parties. Ayelet Shaked needed his blessing in order to be appointed the chairman of the extremist right-wing bloc. And Netanyahu is giving this man a platform to speak to extricate himself from prison."

"If secular people in Israel don't wake up now, this man and people like him will educate our children. The only answer is the Democratic Camp. Because we won't just stand up to Netanyahu; we will also fight against the rabbis who impose religious coercion and homophobia. We'll keep them away from the schools and we'll give the children of Israel the education they deserve - education based on free choice, democratic education, real education. Because we have no other democracy."

Transportation Minister Bezalel Smotrich responded, "Nitzan Horowitz, don't you dare say a word about Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu. Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu is a Torah giant! He's a hero with his wonderful work in many areas. And how do you say it in your campaign? To be the greatest of opponents to sexual violence, without fear - this is Rabbi Shmuel - this is courage!

"And yes, also to fight for the integrity of Israel and the Jewish people is courage. And to tell the truth when it is not the most popular is courage. And to establish a rabbis' association which is active in bringing all different types of people closer to Judaism - religious and secular - is courage."

"You are brave on Facebook, he's brave in life. That's why you and your friends will continue to grumble, and he and we will continue to act, with courage."

"And the truth is, if you knew him and you had the courage to admit the truth, you would say the same thing. But you live on stigmas and you don't even have the courage to meet him one-on-one and listen. The loss is entirely yours," concluded Smotrich.