The Chief Rabbi of Safed, Shmuel Eliyahu, rules that rape in war is justified
The Chief Rabbi of Safed, Shmuel Eliyahu, rules that rape in war is justified
Ellie Tzavieli – the Holocaust survivor who was threatened for defying Eliyahu and renting rooms to Arab students
Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu of Safed, notorious for incitement against Palestinians.
Just when I’ve taken a vow to abide by the Zionists’ International Holocaust Remembrance Alliance
definition of anti-Semitism (which defines anti-Zionism and support for the Palestinians
as ‘anti-Semitic’) along comes Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu. The IHRA definition of anti-Semitism stipulates that anti-Semitism might be
comparisons of contemporary Israeli policy to that of the Nazis.
The problem is, what is someone behaves like a Nazi? Is it still anti-Semitic to call them what they are? Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu is an old favourite. He is not any common or garden rabbinical Nazi.
Shmuel is the son of the former Sephardic Chief
Rabbi of Israel, Mordechai Eliyahu. He
is also a member of the
Chief Rabbinate Council, who when it came to racism was no slough.
Mordechai Eliyahu gave a passionate eulogy to the neo-Nazi Rabbi Meir Kahane who was assassinated by a Palestinian in New York in 1990. He ruled that Jewish settlers in the West Bank could harvest Palestinians’ olive trees and steal their crops as the land really belonged to the Jewish people anyway. He told students at the ultra-nationalist Mercaz Harav Yeshiva following an attack that “even when we seek revenge, it is imperative to remember that a thousand Arabs are not worth one yeshiva student.” During Operation Cast Lead in Gaza he wrote to the prime minister Ehud Olmert, that there was nothing wrong with indiscriminately bombing and killing Palestinian citizens if this would make the battlefield safer for Jewish soldiers. Anshel Pfeffer / Rabbi Mordechai Eliyahu – an Eloquent Racist
It is a case of like father like son. Shmuel Eliyahu advocated genocide in Gaza in ‘retaliation’ for the firing
of Quassem rockets. Despite these rockets, which are mainly fired in retaliation for Israel’s attacks, killing 44 people over 10 years, compared to 2,200 killed in Operation Protective Edge and another 1,400 in Operation Cast Led, he said that:
‘If they don’t stop after we kill 100, then we
must kill a thousand,” said Shmuel Eliyahu. “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.”
Its not a long hop from one million to five or even six
million. There are those who argue that it is ‘anti-Semitic’
to compare Zionism with the Nazis. But
how else can one characterise Eliyahu other than to call him a Jewish Nazi?
Shmuel briefly embarrassed the authorities a few years ago when he
issued an edict forbidding
Jews in Safed to rent or lease accommodation to Arabs. When the international press got hold of this
and made an issue of it, Netanyahu briefly condemned him. But when the media circus moved on so did
Israel’s Zionist establishmen. Eliyahu
remained a paid official of the state, which all Chief Rabbis are and he has
continued to enforce his Nazi-style edict. [Nazi Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu – the Plan
to Remove Arabs from Safed is Successfully Continuing]
The only Israeli Jew
in Safed who stood up to Eliyahu was Eli Tzavieli, a Holocaust
survivor, who understood the Nazi implications of forbidding a racial minority
from renting property, since it was of course applied to Germany’s Jews. (see
Now Eliyahu has excelled himself. He has found a biblical justification
for the rape of Palestinian women by soldiers.
It has to be said that he is not the first Zionist creature to advocate
rape in war. That accolade goes to the
Israeli ‘academic’ and former colonel, Mordechai Kedar, a lecturer at Bar Ilan,
a religious University in Tel Aviv. [see Sussex Friends of Israel Welcome Rape
Supporter Mordechai Kedar]
Perhaps when Hove MP next goes along to a meeting of the
far-Right SFI he might bear in mind what their real attitude to such matters
Eliyahu argued, and you can see the whole article below, that Israel’s
soldier, when he is away from home fighting the holy war ‘he is enflamed’. Although ‘It is not proper to think of the Comely
Woman – but he is.’
There you have it. ‘he needs to
fight, and you should moralize him!! … Do not weaken his spirit!!’
Yes I hear you cry, rape is wrong in all circumstances but it is not
that simple according to our revered Rabbi (& he is revered – when he was
attacked over his edict banning renting land to Arabs hundreds of rabbis leapt
to his defence). Eliyahu explains that:
‘If you forbid him the Comely
Woman, and he is enchanted by wily charms, he’ll think about her constantly,
and may reach the point where the People of Israel will be defeated. What would
you gain by that? That thousands of Jewish women will be raped by the accursed
So you see. If the pure Israeli
soldier is denied the ‘Comely woman’
he may think of her and forget to fight properly and then Israel may be
defeated and thousands of Jewish women may be raped. Framed like that of course, who would deny
that one rape is preferable to thousands of rapes?
Indeed it is really her fault.
She ‘may have prettified herself
specifically to entrap him and incriminate him, and may have not).’ So really it is her fault, just like women who wear short skirts. She prettified herself to entrap him. So any Palestinian women who are raped can be
assumed to have wanted it anyway.
Eliyahu tells us to ‘Pay
attention – her life was spared in war!!
She’s not even a war captive!! He
cannot live with her as with a wife, and then sell her as a slave!! He lets her go!! Scot free!!
Have you ever heard of such laws, in any country in the world?’ You
must admit that there are relatively few countries with laws that allow
And this kind of argument is common amongst Israel’s pampered religious
rabbinate who are paid by the state, revered, given a special position as the
arbiters of personal law in Israel. And
then there are fools who parrot that Israel is a democracy!
Rabbi Col. Eyal Karim (left), nominated to become IDF chief rabbi, sits next to his predecessor, Brig. Gen. Rafi Peretz, on April 21, 2016 (Diana Khananashvili/Defense Ministry)
Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu is the Rabbi of the town of Safed, and is one of
the most notoriously racist rabbis in Israel. Prosecutors twice considered
indicting him for breaking the law against incitement, and twice backed down.
He has publicly said he will not condemn “price tag” attacks (by settlers on
Palestinians), saying “if the government won’t act, then the public should” (Hebrew). His most notorious act was signing a petition
demanding no Jew rent or sell apartments to a non-Jew in his town of Safed; 300
rabbis joined the call. While the act was openly racist, and illegal, the
Israel law against incitement to racism specifically excludes “religious
debate” from the law; thus the case against Eliyahu was closed (Hebrew). Eliyahu’s ongoing racism, however, is likely to
have cost him the 2013 election of the office of Chief Sephardic Rabbi, though
he came relatively close (he got 49 votes, the winner got 68). Eliyahu, a
member of the Chief Rabbinate Council, also failed to get elected in 2014 as
rabbi of Jerusalem; at the time he was reputed to be the candidate of the
Jewish Home (Hebrew).
An Israel blogger, Ruhama Weiss, exposed yesterday
(Sunday) an old ruling (from 2002) of Eliyahu regarding the thorny issue of
rape during war, the mizvah of the Comely Woman. Those who read Hebrew
can read the original here.
Below is a translation of Eliyahu’s reply. Be advised: the text is rather
brutal and I endeavored to keep the translation as close as possible to the
First, several necessary notes:
1. The Comely Woman issue appears in the Bible in Deuteronomy
21. (“If you notice among the captives a comely woman and desire her, you
may take her as your wife.”) However, the Talmudic sages changed the law
somewhat; as can be seen in Maimonides (Hebrew) the woman is first raped in the field, and the
issue of the ritualistic humiliation takes place after the war.
2. Eliyahu is lying when he says that a Comely Woman is to be released
if her kidnapper dislikes her. Perusing the same Maimonides chapter, you find
that she is only released if she has converted to Judaism: otherwise, “A Comely
Woman who refuses to refrain from idolatry after twelve months is killed.”
3. The current Chief Rabbi of the IDF, Eyal Qarim, was exposed
by me as espousing much the same views (though his writing is more elusive
and much less brutal) in 2012; and this came close
to torpedoing his appointment. Qarim had to recant his views before the High
Court of Justice would permit his appointment. The question of whether the rape
of gentile women in wartime is permitted is apparently alive and well in some
On to the translation, then. Keep your barf bags handy. Rabbi Eliyahu
Regarding this issue of “Comely Woman”, there are two different
– One is in which a man goes to war with supreme holiness, and thereby
saving the souls of converts and the like, as is in your quote of the saintly
– Another is that of taking a woman in a storm of passion.
You’re assuming that the majority of the cases are of the second kind,
maybe you’re right, and maybe not, and apparently it’s sometimes one way and
sometimes the other.
Whether it’s the majority or the minority, your question is: Why permit
a bad act because of a person’s weakness? Why not always say: “Better to
transgress than to sin willfully”? Should we allow all transgressions?
The answer depends on what case the Jewish people are in. The case we’re
talking about is one in which a man is going to sacrifice his life, and
everything he has, for others. A battle for life or death.
Should Israel’s fighters fail – the foreigners will come and murder men,
women and children. They’ll rape, pillage, and bring about a catastrophe on the
whole nation, or a few towns.
If Israel’s fighters succeed – the lives of millions of people will be
saved. And evil in the world will be reduced.
In that case, in which the warrior is separated from his wife for long
months, and the urges burn in him, he may think of women during the fighting,
become lax and fight less well.
Because this specific soldier is that way? Seeing the Comely Woman, he
It is not proper to think of the Comely Woman – but he is.
Now he needs to fight, and you should moralize him!! Do it at home,
before the war, not in the middle of the war. Do not weaken his spirit!!
If you forbid him the Comely Woman, and he is enchanted by wily charms,
he’ll think about her constantly, and may reach the point where the People of
Israel will be defeated. What would you gain by that? That thousands of Jewish
women will be raped by the accursed evildoers.
Therefore, the Torah said: in this case, if you’re so enflamed – take
the Comely Woman!!
It’s not the best solution.
It may cause division within your house.
It may lead to the birth of a Rebellious Son.
It may bring you to great harm.
But the Torah said: In this case – the Comely Woman is permitted.
The eating of pork was permitted to those who are hungry and need the
strength to fight.
The violation of the Sabbath was also permitted, as well as other very
important issues, so as to prevent loss of life.
A similar case is what we say nowadays, not to listen to all those
“bleeding hearts” who sit at their homes and preach morals to the dedicated IDF
[Israeli Defense Forces] soldiers, why did they shoot and accidentally hit a
Palestinian child or “the innocents”? Don’t listen to them and don’t listen to
all those who judge IDF soldiers for taking a popsicle and not paying a full
price, VAT included. Remember that at that hour they gave all that was dear to
them for the People of Israel – their lives. And in such an hour, you judge
them for nothing, certainly for things lives don’t hang on. All that will be
dealt with later, proportionally.
Even those who, by the Grace of God, came back home alive and well –
they, too, sacrificed their lives for the public, and this sacrifice is not
lesser than that of those who were killed for the sanctification of God’s Name.
Those who returned home, well or wounded – sacrificed their lives!!
Aside from that, see how the Torah kept the honor of the Comely Woman,
as well as that of the woman left at home.
The Torah said: you were attracted to beauty – to the Comely Woman?
We’ll put you through boot camp!!
Do not marry just the surface beauty, because if you do you would harm
yourself, harm this woman, and harm your wife who patiently awaited you at
(Don’t pity the Comely Woman – hair and nails grow back quickly, and
this is less painful than captivity or death at war.)
If our warrior finds out he became a captive of the Comely Woman (who
may have prettified herself specifically to entrap him and incriminate him, and
may have not).
If he finds out that he became a captive of surface beauty. If, after
her shaving, he calms down and returns to mental health, overcome his urges –
then “then thou shalt let her go whither she will; but thou shalt not sell her
at all for money, thou shalt not make merchandise of her, because thou hast
Pay attention – her life was spared in war!!
She’s not even a war captive!!
He cannot live with her as with a wife, and then sell her as a slave!!
He lets her go!!
Have you ever heard of such laws, in any country in the world?
After all, in the famed United States it was common, up until some 100
years ago (or so) that a master can have intercourse with his black [also
possibly: “nigger”] slaves as often as he wanted. Willingly or forcibly –
everything was legal!!
Then they would continue to be his humiliated slaves. Then he could show
them cruelty and sell them like beasts in the slave market, with their children
or without them. He [could also] sell just the children, ignoring the women’s
And they weren’t [even] war captives!!
So it was in the democratic United States a hundred years ago, and so it
was in the Torah three thousand years ago.
This is what the Torah teaches: either a wife or a slave!
If a slave – not a sex slave.
If a slave – let her work with dignity.
If you beat her, and break one of her teeth (for instance), she is immediately
released to freedom. Did you hear me?!?
My dear boy!
In the US, it was permitted to cut off the limbs of an escaped slave
with a knife, and also to… castrate him. That was the law. Unpleasant yet very
Therefore, take heed before you question the morality of the Torah.
Remember where you live!!
Also remember that all we said is not in advance, but only in retrospect
and only in times of war and only when lives are on the line and only when the
urges are burning.
When lives are on the line, you do not educate the soldiers to morality.
It’s time to win!!
See also the report in the Times of Israel of 12 July 2016 about
the appointment of the Chief Rabbi of the Israeli Defence Forces, Eyal Karim,
who also advocated rape in war. It would
seem that raping non-Jews in wartime is seen as perfectly acceptable by large
parts of the nationalist Orthodox rabbis.
Eli Tzavieli has
been harassed for renting part of his house in Safed to Arabs
Ellie Tzavieli – the holocaust survivor threatened for renting rooms to Arab students
In the Israeli city
of Safed, an 89-year-old man has been accused of treachery for welcoming Arab
students. Catrina Stewart reports
Monday 15 November
First they threatened
to burn his house down. Then they pinned leaflets to his front door, denouncing
him as a Jewish traitor. But Eli Tzavieli, an 89-year-old Holocaust survivor,
is defiant. His only “crime” is to rent out his
rooms to three Arab students attending the college in Safed, a religious city
in northern Israel that was until recently more famous for Jewish mysticism and
A campaign waged by
Shmuel Eliyahu, the town’s radical head rabbi, culminating in a ruling barring
residents from renting rooms to Israeli Arabs, means that Safed is fast
emerging as a byword for racism.
looking for trouble, but if there is a problem, I’ll confront it,” says Mr. Tzavieli, a Jew who
survived Nazi forced labour camps and whose parents perished in Auschwitz.
“These [tenants] are great kids. And I’m doing my best to make them
At an emergency
meeting last month, Mr. Eliyahu, the son of a former chief rabbi of Israel, was
joined by 17 other religious leaders in warning that the city’s 40,000 Jewish residents
were threatened with an “Arab takeover.”
appeared to trigger a campaign of harassment against Mr. Tsavieli to pressure
him into throwing the students out. When the pensioner paid little heed to his
aggressors, he received an anonymous threat to set fire to his house and a
vicious poster campaign accused him of “returning the Arabs to
Mr. Eliyahu, who
once advocated the mass slaughter of Palestinians civilians in Gaza to stop the
firing of Qassam rockets, declined to be interviewed for this story.
Sprawled over a
hilltop in the Upper Galilee, Safed is one of Israel’s most picturesque towns,
enjoying commanding views over the north of the country. A leading centre for
Kabbalah, or Jewish mysticism, it is one of Judaism’s four holiest towns, and
every year draws a diverse celebrity crowd.
In 1948, Safed was a
mixed Jewish and Arab Palestinian community, with some 10,000 Palestinians
living in the town. As Jewish forces battled for control, the Palestinians
fled, including a 13-year-old Mahmoud Abbas, who would later become the
founding, some Palestinians accepted Israeli citizenship and remained in
Israel, and now number 1.5 million, a fifth of the country’s population.
These days, Safed is
home to a large community of ultra-orthodox Jews, who are deeply conservative
and observe a strict code of behaviour, including no driving or smoking in
public on Shabbat, the Jewish Sabbath.
As Mr Tsavieli poses
for a photograph outside the entrance to his home in Safed’s Old City, a Jewish
labourer shouts at him: “I’m warning you, it won’t do you any good
to attract attention like this.”
continues to smile, but it’s clear that he’s a little rattled. Sitting in his
leafy courtyard, he talks about his extensive voluntary and social work,
including time as a probation officer (“The moment you have a problem,
Eli, you just let us know,” a former inmate told him after
hearing of the threats), and says that he’s only trying to do “a good
As he talks, Nimran
Grefat, one of his Arab tenants, dashes in to pick up some books for his next
class, stopping briefly to chat. “He’s a good man, he’s like a father
to us,” Mr Grefat, 19, says later of his landlord. “He told
us: ‘If someone hurts you, he hurts me.'”
Tension in the city
ratcheted up a notch last month after a violent clash between a Jewish mob and
Arab students. Thirty or so Jewish youths converged on a building rented to
Arab students, throwing bottles and chanting “stinky
Muslims” and “death to Arabs.” The
students retaliated by throwing stones, prompting an Israeli policeman to loose
off rounds from his rifle. He was later charged along with a friend for firing
Mr Grefat says that
he is afraid, and even considered dropping his studies or moving into dorms.
Encouraged by Mr Tsavieli to stick it out, he takes basic safety precautions,
such as not returning home alone late at night. “I didn’t come
here to live,” he says. “I’m not going to build a
family here. I just came for three years to study, after which I’ll go back to
The tensions that
many hoped were confined to Safed are spreading to other towns, too. The deputy
mayor of Carmiel, a mere 30 kilometres from Safed, was recently sacked for
anti-Arab statements and for employing a militia to prevent Arabs from entering
Many civil rights
defenders have warned that the events in Israel’s north are not an isolated
phenomenon, but rather a symptom of the growing racism and anti-Arab sentiment
sparked by a political shift to the right in recent years.
government should be mitigating these tensions, but instead it is escalating
them with new laws and a vacuum of decisions,” said Ali Haider, a director at
Sikkuy, an Israeli organisation committed to civic equality.
currently making their way through the Knesset have been slammed by liberal
commentators as racist or anti-Arab, including a loyalty bill requiring new
citizens to swear allegiance to a “Jewish and democratic” Israel.
Moreover, small Jewish communities are lobbying to determine just who can and
cannot move into their communities, a demand widely interpreted as a move to
keep Arabs out.
Foreign Minister, Avigdor Lieberman, has even proposed a population transfer in
the event of a peace agreement that would see Israel’s Arab citizens placed
under Palestinian sovereignty.
These proposals have
drawn a barrage of criticism from the left of the political spectrum, but
observers say such ideas are moving into the mainstream, as evidenced by robust
support for Mr Lieberman and his ultra-nationalist party, Yisrael Beitenu,
Israel’s third-largest party. Several Israeli commentators have sounded a note
of alarm at exclusionary moves, warning that the prevailing trends in Israel
are beginning to resemble Nazi-era policies.
countries, in other eras, the selling and renting of homes to Jews was
forbidden, and those who violated the ban were penalised harshly. We all
remember where it ended up,” wrote Ziv Lenchner in an op-ed on Israeli
news site Ynet. “Well, do we really remember?”
But that argument
cuts little ice in Safed, where many residents feel the 1,350 Arabs studying at
the nearby college are an unsettling influence that threatens Safed’s religious
and Jewish character, not least because of fears of intermarriage.
“I see the
Arabs here wearing gold chains, and it looks like Syria,” says a young woman, who wears a
modest headscarf to cover her hair. “This is an orthodox city, and
[that] is impure.”
A new medical school
is to open in the area early next year, prompting concerns among Jews that it
will bring even more Arabs to the town.
Moshe, 35, a music
store manager, insists the issue is not one of racism, but that encouraging a
large influx of Arabs into the city demonstrates a “blatant
disregard” for the existing Jewish community.
experience of Arabs over the last 10 years is terror,” he said. “Now
they’re saying, ‘Let us be neighbours.’ You don’t force peace on people.”