The Justice Ministry said Sunday it would drop its case against the chief rabbi of Safed, after the state prosecutor was unable to form a case proving the rabbi had made racist statements against Arabs.
Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu, who is the chief Jewish religious authority in the northern Kabbalist city of Safed, came under fire in 2010 after a journalist published an interview with him in which he made several derogatory statements about Arabs.
The interview came after a letter signed by Eliyahu called for Jews in the city not to rent to Arabs. The mostly-Jewish city is home to a medical school with a large number of Arab students, many of whom look to live in Safed during their studies.
The letter was widely condemned
The ministry stated in a press release it is impossible to establish whether the statements attributed to the rabbi in print accurately reflect what he actually said.
The case against Eliyahu opened last November following an order by the Attorney General Yehuda Weinstein.
Following the ruling Sunday, Eliyahu told Ynet news that he had never engaged in incitement or racism. “Guarding the land is Zionism at its best,” he said. “I’m glad the attorney general and the state prosecutor’s staff have confirmed that freedom of speech applies to rabbis as well.”