Earlier this month, dozens of rabbis from all over Israel signed a religious ruling that forbids Jews from renting or selling real estate to Arabs. The men claim that the prohibition stems from a ban in the Torah on land transactions with "foreigners" living in Israel, the Monitor reported.
"Their way of life is different from ours, and our oppressors are among them," the statement says.
The religious opinion reflects a confluence of several related trends: growing alienation between Jews and the country's one-fifth Arab minority, a shift of public sentiment toward ultra-nationalist political parties, and growing radicalization among the leaders of Israel's nationalist religious movement who challenge the secular foundations of the government.
Although several Jewish and Israeli institutions have come out against the letter – such as Yad Vashem, the Israeli Holocaust museum authority – the number of prominent rabbis in Israel who have condemned it has been comparatively small. Many of the rabbis that signed the letter are state-employed municipal chief rabbis.