The Daily Telegraph reports:
Until this month, the shadowy Lehava organisation was best known for issuing an eccentric demand in March urging Bar Refaeli, an Israeli model, not to marry Leonardo DiCaprio, the American actor, because he is a gentile.
But in recent weeks it has taken on a more sinister hue by spearheading a series of actions that included a rally in the coastal city of Bat Yam to denounce Jews who rent their homes to Arabs.
In the broader political spectrum, Lehava may represent a tiny minority of malcontents but there is growing unease in Israel after the message about renting homes was effectively endorsed by 300 rabbis.
The rabbis, some of them of senior rank, signed up to an edict issued last month that declared: “It is forbidden in the Torah to sell a house or a field in the land of Israel to a foreigner.”
With its undertones reminiscent of 1930s Berlin, where Jews were relegated to second-class status and denied the right to rent German-owned properties, the pronouncement has appalled Holocaust survivors.
“As someone who suffered as a Jew and underwent the Holocaust, I remember the Nazis throwing Jews out of their apartments and city centres in order to create ghettos,” said Noah Flug, the chairman of the International Association of Holocaust Survivors.
“I remember how they wrote on benches that no Jews were allowed, and of course it was prohibited to sell or rent to Jews. We thought that in our country this wouldn’t happen.”