Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu
Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahuצילום: David Cohen/Flash90

With the Muslim month of Ramadan approaching, the Chief Rabbi of Tzfat, Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu, has been approached by the Shabak, which wants his cooperation in calming possible tensions in mixed Jewish-Arab cities. Rabbi Eliyahu, however, has refused to meet with representatives of the Shabak’s Jewish Department.

“I have the greatest of respect for the Shabak,” Rabbi Eliyahu told Reshet Bet, “and I used to meet with them. But this political department of theirs wants to portray Jews as being responsible for the problems we have here, when 99 percent of violent incidents are caused by Arabs. Is Jewish graffiti really going to ignite the Middle East?”

Rabbi Eliyahu added that, “Once, they came to see me about a fire in a mosque in Tuba Zangriya, and in the end, it turned out that it was the result of a dispute among Arabs. It’s a joke. What Jewish crime are they talking about? There are lies being spread here, and I won’t be party to their attempts to draw parallels.”

According to the Makor Rishon newspaper, the Shabak’s Jewish Department approached Rabbi Eliyahu as part of its preparations for Ramadan, hoping that he would help to “restrain members of his community,” after learning lessons the hard way during Operation Guardian of the Walls, when security forces struggled to contain violent riots in mixed cities.

This year, the month-long Ramadan festival begins in another two months; last year, escalations during Ramadan led to numerous violent incidents and culminated in a military operation.

Regardless of the Shabak’s concerns about containing future outbreaks of violence, Rabbi Eliyahu is adamant in his refusal to meet with them. “There are hundreds of vehicle thefts, shootings, rock-throwing incidents, and trees being uprooted. They should start by dealing with all of that – all of that, and then Arab crime that ends with murder,” he said. “What are they doing about all the other problems?”