Regev Responds

Many are still trying to recover from the rhetoric of the US election

How low can Israeli politicians stoop?

Regardless of one's political view point, it seems that many Americans are still trying to recover from the language that characterized much of the Presidential election campaign and manifested itself in some post election outbursts, including racial and anti-Semitic public displays.

A Jew praying at the Western Wall; source: WikipediaA Jew praying at the Western Wall; source: Wikipedia

Israel too has been meeting a similar challenge that came to new heights (or rather - lows) in the last few days. Some of this we chose to share with you on the Hiddush website HERE, in part because as disagreeable and inflammatory as it may be, it is still important for those who care about Israel's Jewish & democratic character, and its commitment to diversity and mutual respect, that the true facts be known. Without knowing the truth and understanding the extent of the challenge facing us, we would not be able to engage in the necessary communal policy setting and understand the urgent need to partner with like-minded Israeli groups and activists to bring about change.

We've also provided you with an English translation HERE of an interview given by MK David Amsalem (Likud) who chairs the Knesset Internal Affairs and Environment Committee. He describes himself in the interview as a "non-religious" Jew who is "very traditional." This radio interview presented us with such abominable attitude and language that we felt we needed to make it available to the American Jewish community as well.

These views are anchored in Rabbi Amar's stated demand that Israel become a theocratic Torah state, and that such rabbis should never be appointed to public office.

To add to this, in tomorrow's Israeli press there will be an interview with Jerusalem's Chief Rabbi Amar who until recently served as Israel's Chief Rabbi. We have had many occasions to criticize R. Amar and his fundamentalist religious views, but he too has reached new lows, proclaiming: "Reform Jews are evil, and gay people are an abomination." Along with many others, we strongly reacted to these obscene statements; and reminded the public that these views are anchored in his stated demand that Israel become a theocratic Torah state, and that such rabbis should never be appointed to public office.

Additionally, Israel has also witnessed this week the progression of a legislative process motivated by anti-Muslim sentiments, aimed at outlawing the use of PA systems atop mosques, announcing the daily calls to prayer. While we certainly support the need to consider the volume of such broadcasts, we nevertheless feel that the proposed bill is wrong and ill-intended.

Pronouncements made by Israel's religious leaders get less exposure in North America, if any. Yet such pronouncements shed light not only the attitude of these leaders, but also provide further insights as to their actions within Israel. In this newsletter, we also share some Israeli leaders' reactions to the American elections; some among these religious leaders carry influence on the Israeli political decision making process and shape some of the building blocks of Israel's religion-state alignment.

Once again, these events highlight the importance of civil society groups such as Hiddush raising the banner of religious freedom and equality for Jews and non-Jews alike, and hope that our readers and supporters feel how important their active engagement and support is for Israel's future.

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