ADL Troubled By Reports of Racism Against Bedouin Students in Safed

Jerusalem, November 4, 2010 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) was troubled to learn of the recent expressions of racism towards Bedouin students in Safed.

In a recent example, according to news reports, an 89-year-old resident of Safed who rented his apartment to Bedouin students from the Safed Academic College endured harassment, including threats to burn his apartment. This followed the announcement by the city’s Chief Rabbi, Shmuel Eliyahu, forbidding renting property to Arabs.

ADL’s Israel Office issued the following statement:

All citizens of the State of Israel, according to the law, have equal rights including renting apartments. Citizens should not be discriminated against for their ethnic background. Mr. Zvieli, the apartment owner, himself a former prisoner of a Soviet camp, said, “Anti-Semitism is one of the worst things we Jews suffered.”

We call upon Rabbi Eliyahu to reverse the discriminatory ruling, which negates Israeli law. We welcome statements from public leaders condemning this announcement, including that of Ilan Shohat, the Mayor of Safed, who stated: “The City of Safed respects every student, Jewish or Arab, who has chosen to study here. It is important for each group to respect the customs and religion that prevail in the city and not create provocation which can lead to violence.”

ADL is the world’s leading anti-hate organization. Founded in 1913 in response to an escalating climate of anti-Semitism and bigotry, its timeless mission is to protect the Jewish people and to secure justice and fair treatment for all. Today, ADL continues to fight all forms of hate with the same vigor and passion. A global leader in exposing extremism, delivering anti-bias education, and fighting hate online, ADL is the first call when acts of anti-Semitism occur. ADL’s ultimate goal is a world in which no group or individual suffers from bias, discrimination or hate.

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Alan Gratz