Over the past couple of weeks, numerous media outlets have reported on a letter signed by fifty Orthodox rabbis in Israel banning the rental or sale of property to non-Jews. The rational was a fear of intermarriage, fear of reduced property value, and safety. These rabbis believe that the lifestyle of non-Jews (specifically, Arab citizens) can endanger lives both physically and spiritually.
The response of international condemnation has been swift, staggering, and unanimous. According to the Forward, the letter has been denounced by “American Modern Orthodox and Conservative rabbinic associations, and by the spokesman for an American ultra-Orthodox umbrella group.” An alliance of more than 900 rabbis, “most of them affiliated with non-Orthodox denominations,” has also signed an online petition. Rabbi David Ellenson penned a powerful op-ed for the [New York] Jewish Week opposing the statement, and in Israel, Prime Minister Benjanmin Netanyahu has spoken out against the letter, as have numerous high ranking rabbis.
Amidst all of these voices, one phrase stood out as a clearly articulated explanation of how the rabbis who signed the letter are damaging the Jewish community.