(JTA) —A ruling by dozens of Israel’s municipal chief rabbis that forbids renting homes to gentiles, specifically to Arabs, is inconsistent with democratic values, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said.
The ruling comes less than two months after leading rabbis in Safed signed on to a letter by the city’s chief rabbi calling on Jews not to rent to non-Jews there, as well as a month after rabbis in the haredi Orthodox Israeli city of Bnei Brak forbade residents to rent apartments to African refugees, echoing a similar ruling for southern Tel Aviv.
"How would we feel if someone said not to sell apartments to Jews?" The Jerusalem Post quoted Netanyahu as saying Tuesday evening at a Bible contest. "We would protest, and we do protest when it is said among our neighbors. It is forbidden that such things are said about Jews or Arabs."
The ruling states that neighbors of those who are renting or considering selling to non-Jews or Arabs should first warn the neighbor personally, and if the behavior continues to notify the community. The offending landlord, according to the ruling, must be ignored and not be called to the Torah for an aliyah.
The Association for Civil Rights in Israel issued a statement calling on Netanyahu to condemn the ruling and take action against those who signed it. Municipal chief rabbis’ salaries are paid for by the state.