Press Release

ADL Welcomes AG's Recommendation Against Eliyahu’s Candidacy for Chief Rabbi of Israel

Jerusalem, July 15, 2013 … The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) today welcomed the recommendation by Israel’s attorney general against Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu’s candidacy for the July 24 election for Sephardic chief rabbi of Israel.

Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein has reportedly determined he would be unable to defend Rabbi Eliyahu, who has been widely criticized for a number of anti-Arab statements he has made over the years, from legal challenges by those who would accuse him of racism.

“Israel’s chief rabbis not only serve as the most public religious authorities in Israel, they are also role models for many Israelis and are seen as important figures in Jewish and other faith communities around the world,” said Abraham H. Foxman, ADL National Director.  “Rabbi Eliyahu’s racist statements and extremist views make him ill-suited to serve in such a high-profile and important Israeli government position.”

On July 11, ADL wrote a letter to Naftali Bennet, Israel’s minister of religious affairs and head of the Habayit Hayehudi Party, questioning support for Rabbi Eliyahu by a majority of members of the party, “…without giving adequate consideration to Rabbi Eliyahu’s record of inappropriate, offensive and, at times, racist statements and positions about Israeli Arabs and Palestinians.”

The League has publicly objected to certain positions adopted by Rabbi Eliyahu, including the use of his capacity as chief rabbi of Safed to direct Jewish residents not to rent apartments to Arabs, a matter that was subjected to an official Ministry of Justice investigation.

Rabbi Eliyahu also reportedly made comments suggesting that Israel should indiscriminately bomb Palestinians in response to rocket fire from Gaza into Israel, saying that, “If they don’t stop after we kill 100, then we must kill a thousand. And if they do not stop after 1,000 then we must kill 10,000. If they still don't stop we must kill 100,000, even a million. Whatever it takes to make them stop.”