Not wanting Arabs in your town? Not racism, just run-of-the-mill Zionism:
In the winding stone alleys of this Galilee hill town, a centuries-old center of Jewish mysticism, a campaign is underway.
It is being waged by the town rabbi, Shmuel Eliahu, who along with other area rabbis issued a religious ruling several months ago forbidding residents to rent apartments to Israeli Arab students from the local community college.
The rabbi has warned that the Jewish character of Safed, long revered as sacred, is at risk and that intermarriages could follow if the students mingle with the locals.
Last month, Eliahu called a public meeting to sound the alarm. On the agenda was “the quiet war,” a reference to the feared Arab influx, and “fighting assimilation in the holy city of Safed.”
Several days later, a building that houses Arab students was attacked by a group of young Jews, and an elderly Holocaust survivor renting a room to students received threats.
To civil rights advocates and other critics, the unsettling developments in this normally quiet community of 32,000 are a window into ugly currents of racism in Israeli society. The events here, the critics say, reflect a general atmosphere of growing intolerance under a government and parliament dominated by parties of the nationalist right.