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Elderly man lets flat to Arabs; receives threats

Elderly citizen who let his flat to Arabs: someone threatened to burn my house down

From: Idan Avni, Walla! News
Tuesday, 2 November 2010, 21:06 [Israel time]

Zvi Eli, an 89-years-old Holocaust survivor, complained to police that after he let his flat in Safed to Bedouin students, he received a telephone call threatening to burn down his house. Earlier, the town’s chief rabbi tried to convince him to find other tenants and even offered to buy the flat itself.

An escalation in the campaign of Safed residents against the letting of flats to Arabs. A resident of the town claims that he was subjected to threats intended to dissuade him from letting his apartment to Arabs. According to the man, Zvi Eli (89), once his neighbours -- including the Chief Rabbi of Safed Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu -- became aware that he intends to let his flat to three Bedouin students, they tried to get him to sever the lease.

He said that initially the gabai [attendant] from the synagogue where he prays was sent to him in an attempt to persuade him not to let the flat to Arabs. But once his efforts did not bear fruit, Eli’s neighbour, Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu turned up in person and asked him to find new tenants. "I told him that had I known, perhaps I would have picked [someone else] but I have a [tenancy] agreement with them and I am not going to withdraw from that agreement."

Zvi Eli added that Rabbi Eliyahu told him he could not bear the presence of Arabs in the place. Eli further said: "during the conversation the Rabbi even offered to buy my apartment." He said that the rabbi left his home without a response. He claims that on that very night he received an anonymous phone call threatening that to burn down his house. This morning when he got up, Eli found leaflets posted on his doorway reading "Independence War fighter Zvi Eli leases flats to Arabs. Shame on him." Following that, he filed a police complaint.

At this stage Eli’s flat is occupied by religious [Jewish] tenants, but their lease has expired. The Bedouin students who are meant to replace them are at this stage staying in a spare room in the elderly citizen’s own flat. Eli, who survived the Holocaust and fought in the War of Independence, refuses to retract his assent to the agreement he undertook. He said, "There is a manifestation of racism here. They are citizens of the state and good tenants. It seems to me that the rabbi is overreaching himself. I encourage the students not to be scared; the police who have been here said that will ensure our safety." The three students come from various Bedouin villages in the Galilee. They preferred not to be identified.

In response to Eli’s comment, Rabbi Shmuel Eliyahu told Walla! News: "I spoke to Zvi Eli. It was a polite conversation over a cup of coffee. I think the proper way is to have a respectful discussion rather than issuing threats. I'm glad he appreciates the problematic aspect of the situation and is looking for a non-antagonistic way of getting them out. I hope he will find such a way. The neighbours are up in arms. They feel very uncomfortable about the new neighbours that have been thrusted upon them. Our experience with Arab students is not pleasant. Dozens of neighbours are being hurt. We talk to every single person letting flats to Arabs. His/her neighbours also talk to him. I think it's legitimate. "

Translated by Sol Salbe of the Middle East News Service.

Hebrew original: http://news.walla.coil/?w=%2F1%2F1751083


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