Shmuel Eliyahu is the son of Mordechai Eliyahu, the former Sephardi Chief Rabbi of Israel. He studied at Yeshivat Yerushalayim L’Tzeirim and later at Mercaz HaRav Kook. He served in an Israel Defense Forces combat unit.
In July 2013, Eliyahu ran for the position of Sephardi Chief Rabbi of Israel. the Israeli attorney general requested that Eliyahu abandon his candidacy, noting that he had made a number of offensive statements in recent years.; a Member of Knesset (Esawi Frej) submitted an emergency petition to the High Court asking that Eliyahu be disqualified for having made "racist" comments that are "destruct[ive] of values in the State of Israel." The High Court rejected the petition based on technicalities. In December 2013, Eliyahu petitioned the high court against the Attorney-General, Yehuda Weinstein, for using confidential information, gathered as part of the failed criminal investigation (discussed below), that Weinstein would later send to the election committee in his attempt to prevent Eliyahu from running.
Eliyahu has edited many books, including Halakha books written by his father, the Kol Eliyahu siddur, and the Avihem shel Yisrael series of incredible stories about his father that were revealed after his death.
According to a May 30, 2007 report in The Jerusalem Post, Eliyahu advocated "carpet bombing the general area from which the Kassams were launched, regardless of the price in Palestinian life." Eliyahu is quoted saying that "If they don't stop after we kill 100, then we must kill a thousand." And, "if they do not stop after 1,000 then we must kill 10,000. If they still don't stop we must kill 100,000, even a million. Whatever it takes to make them stop."
In March 2008, he called for "state-sanctioned revenge" against Arabs. According to Haaretz, in an article for the newsletter Eretz Yisrael Shelanu ("Our Land of Israel"), Eliyahu proposed "hanging the children of the terrorist who carried out the attack in the Mercaz Harav yeshiva from a tree."
Eliyahu has called for a "religious" Prime Minister of Israel, saying that earlier prime ministers (presumably referring to Ehud Olmert) had been "without faith... without credibility... [and] without values."
Eliyahu was involved in publishing the conspiracy theory pamphlet "On Either Side of the Border" in cooperation with the Union of Orthodox Jewish Congregations of America (The OU asserts that its connection with the pamphlet was unauthorized by senior management). The pamphlet cites the personal account of a recent convert to Judaism who had previously been a member of the Lebanese organisation Hezbollah. It asserts that the Pope and the Cardinals of the Roman Catholic Church help organize tours of Auschwitz for Hezbollah members to teach them how to wipe out Jews. The pamphlet was distributed to IDF troops. According to Danny Orbach, a Harvard-based Israeli historian, the pamphlet, which was supposedly written by a Lebanese, contains gross factual errors that no Arab could have made. In addition, there are also numerous other blatant geographical and cultural mistakes, proving that the author of the pamphlet is an ultra-orthodox Jew from Israel who knows very little about the Arab world. Orbach's conclusion is that Eliyahu took a part in a forgery, clearly in order to propagate hatred against Arabs and Muslims. Eliyahu failed to answer the accusations, but his spokesmen stressed the authenticity of the pamphlet in a conversation with Haaretz. Furthermore, Eliyahu had widely quoted from the pamphlet in a subsequent article.
Renting to Arabs
Eliyahu has urged Jewish residents of Safed not to rent housing to Arabs, leading to calls for his suspension and for prosecution on grounds of racial incitement. In July 2012, Israel's Ministry of Justice closed the investigation into allegations of incitement on the grounds of lack of evidence that the statements could be attributed to Eliyahu.
References and footnotes
- Jeremy Sharon, "Yesh Atid MK decries candidacy of 'racist' Sephardi rabbi", Jerusalem Post, 9 July 2013
- Yair Ettinger, "AG urges Rabbi Eliyahu to drop candidacy in light of anti-Arab remarks", Haaretz, 15 July 2013
- Yonah Jeremy Bob, "MK files High Court petition to disqualify Rabbi Eliyahu from Chief Rabbi race", Jerusalem Post, 16 July 2013
- Yoaz, Yuval (22 December 2013). "הרב הראשי של צפת: לפתוח בחקירה נגד היועמ"ש וינשטיין" [Chief Rabbi of Safed: Open an investigation against AG Weinstein] (in Hebrew). Globes. Retrieved 26 December 2013.
- Wagner, Matthew (30 May 2007). "Eliyahu advocates carpet bombing Gaza". The Jerusalem Post.
- "Safed chief rabbi calls on state to exact 'revenge' against Arabs". Haaretz. 2008-03-26. Retrieved 2008-06-04.
- Weiss, Efrat (5 October 2008). "Rabbi: Israel needs religious PM". Israel Jewish Scene (Y Net News). Retrieved 14 February 2013.
- OU Regrets Unauthorized Link with Publication, Orthodox Union, 20 July 2009.
- Ilani, Ofri (19 July 2009). "Vatican teaching Hezbollah how to kill Jews, says pamphlet for IDF troops". Haaretz. Retrieved 14 February 2013.
- Orbach, Danny. "The Truth of Rabbi Eliyahu", Hayanshuf, 12 May 2011.
- Orbach, Danny. "The fairy tales of Safed's chief Rabbi", Haaretz, 14 November 2010.
- Eliyahu, Shmuel (19 August 2011), A new glance on our struggle with Islam
- Sherwood, Harriet. "Dozens of Israeli rabbis back call to forbid sale of property to Arabs", The Guardian, 7 December 2010.
- Khoury, Jack. "Safed rabbi to be suspended for 'inciting war between Jews and Arabs'", Haaretz, 18 November 2010.
- Wingfield-Hayes, Rupert. "Israeli orthodox rabbi stirs up racism debate", BBC News, 30 November 2010.
- "Prosecutors close incitement case against Safed rabbi". The Jerusalem Post. 8 July 2012. Retrieved 14 July 2012.