Most Muslims today are not very knowledgeable in the basics of their religion, Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu, Chief Rabbi of Tsfat, told Israel National News in an interview. The outspoken rabbi, son of the revered late Chief Rabbi of Israel, Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu, has been in the Israeli media recently, some villifying him over a ruling he gave against renting homes to Arabs.
"If Muslims were knowledgeable", he continued, "they would realize that G-d has given the Land of Israel to the Jewish people, and they would stop fighting a historical imperative, and acknowledge what their own religious literature says – as the Arabs who fled Israel in 1948 did".
“Mohammed says very clearly that the Land of Israel belongs to the Jewish people, and that G-d will gather them up out of exile at the end of days. This is true Islam; and Muslim clerics who say otherwise are using their religion to incite, and act against the wishes of G-d,” Rabbi Eliyahu says.
Although he was speaking to Israel National News, Rabbi Eliyahu's message is aimed primarily at Muslims themselves – and he told them exactly what he thinks in another interview, in the Israeli Arabic language newspaper Al-Sanara. The paper asked to interview Rabbi Eliyahu after the halakhic ruling he issued forbidding Jews in Tsfat to rent apartments to Arab students studying in a college on the city. In that ruling, Rabbi Eliyahu cited numerous cases of harassment, theft, personal crimes, and worse, against Jewish residents of the city.
“This is not something I made up,” Rabbi Eliyahu told Al-Sanara. “This was said by rabbis 100, 500, and 1,000 years ago. These are the words of G-d Himself, and we have no right to change those words,” he told Al-Sanara. Despite this, he told the paper, there was no racism whatsoever behind this position. “We believe in treating all people fairly, as they were all created in the image of G-d. But Arabs who support Hizbullah and Hamas certainly cannot be expected to be regarded as 'good neighbors' by us,” he told the paper.
“In my interview with Al-Sanara, I stressed the words of the Koran, citing four different portions where the angels or Mohammed state clearly that G-d has given the Land of Israel to the Jewish people,” Rabbi Eliyahu explained to Israel National News. “Most Muslims, I have found, do not have a good knowledge of their religion, and many have not even read the Koran. When they have a religious question they ask a sheikh, but the do not know their own faith. If they did, they would know what Mohammed said about the Land of Israel belonging to the Jews.”
That wasn't necessarily the case in the past, said Rabbi Eliyahu. “In my opinion, the Arabs who fled Israel when the state was established in 1948 left because they knew the truth,” he said. “The story that they left because the Arab leaders told them to flee for a few days while they destroyed the Jews was invented later. But the Arabs of Israel were not fools – here in Tsfat we had lawyers, accountants, and other professionals, who would not have been foolish enough to leave their homes because some politician from Jordan or Egypt told them to.”
The reason they left, he said, was because they knew the truth. “They understood that G-d had fulfilled their promise to the Jewish people, and the time had come to leave,” Rabbi Eliyahu said. “A truly religious person knows they cannot fool G-d. This is one issue that both the Tanach and the Koran agree on - that the Land of Israel belongs to the Jews. I appreciate Al-Sanara for giving me the opportunity to tell Muslim readers the truth.”