Is Israel a democracy? Five actions in 2010 that fueled the debate.

In Safed, a 'campaign of racism'

In Safed, a religious town in northern Israel, Chief Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu called on residents not to rent or sell real estate to Arab students studying at the local college. The request was later formalized into a religious ruling, the Monitor reported.

Rabbinic signatories to the letter insisted that the legal opinion does not promote discrimination, but rather aims to protect Jews' hold on cities and the country from non-Jewish encroachment. They argued that in a case of a clash between the religious law and secular laws of the state, the former should prevail.

"According to the rabbi, this was self-defense – otherwise Arabs would gradually take over Safed, considered a holy Jewish city," the Monitor reported in a separate article.

According to the lsraeli newspaper Haaretz, Israel's Minority Affairs Ministry recently asked the Justice Ministry to suspend Eliyahu, accusing him of "conducting a campaign of racism against the Arabs for years" and warned that he could spark a "fire that could lead to war between the Jews and the Arabs of the Galilee."

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