Fifty Israeli rabbis have signed an open letter warning Jews not to rent or sell property to non-Jews, saying those who do should be “ostracized,” a copy of the letter showed on Tuesday.
“In answer to the many questions, we say that it is forbidden in the Torah to sell a house or a field in the land of Israel to a foreigner,” says the letter, referring to the Pentateuch, or the first five books of the Bible.
The text, which was signed mostly by state-employed rabbis, warns “he who sells or rents them a flat in an area where Jews live causes great harm to his neighbors.”
While the Israeli government is often in thrall to the extremist clergy who rant that God gave the entire ancient land of Israel (including what’s now Jordan) to the Jews, this was too much for Prime Minister Netanyahu, who harshly condemned the letter.
“How would we feel if we were told not to sell an apartment to Jews? We would protest, and we protest now when it is said of our neighbors. Such things cannot be said, not about Jews and not about Arabs. They cannot be said in any democratic country, and especially not in a Jewish and democratic one. The state of Israel rejects these sayings.”
Other prominent Israelis also condemned the letter, as did America’s Anti-Defamation League.