The Ashkenazi and Sephardic chief rabbis of Israel, as well as 11 other prominent rabbis, call on Jews to refrain from assaulting Arab laborers.
The call follows reports of multiple assaults of Arabs by Jews, especially in the Jerusalem area, in connection with the war between Israel and Hamas that began on October 7.
“Unfortunate rumors have reached us that people from the margins of the public, whose blood is boiling because of the terrible news, are behaving violently toward those who work for the residents of Jerusalem and the rest of the country,” reads the statement.
It is signed by Yitzhak Yosef and David Lau, the Sephardic and Ashkenazi chief rabbis of Israel, as well as Shlomo Amar and Aryeh Stern, the chief rabbis of Jerusalem, and nine other prominent rabbis.
This violence “contradicts the Torah,” and is dangerous and “damaging” because it risks making Arab laborers decide not to work their jobs, to the detriment of all those who depend on their services, the rabbis wrote. “Do not engage in fights and hostility toward those workers,” reads the call, which continues to urge its readers to restrain “hotheaded youths” from engaging in such behavior.
Last month, several Arab bus drivers in the Jerusalem area were assaulted, according to a report by Kan news Wednesday. Last week, Jewish passengers pepper-sprayed an Arab driver on line 164, causing him to drive into an electric post. He was lightly injured, the report said. In another incident, assailants broke the glass divider of the 72 line bus, calling the driver, who was an Arab, a “terrorist.”
In another incident from October 8, passengers in the predominantly religious settlement of Modi’in Ilit wounded an Arab bus driver by smashing the windows near the driver’s seat. They, too, called the driver a terrorist. He sustained minor injuries to his arm.