Monthly Archives: October 2011

Show your support for progressive Israelis

The religious right is active in the Middle East, and Israel is no different. Here is Israeli President Shimon Peres on the shame the most recent mosque attack brings on Israel. It is far from only Muslims on the receiving end of the rage of the most extreme sections of Israeli society. Here is a piece from BBC Radio 4’s Today Programme on 7th October on Ultra-Orthodox attacks on a Modern Orthodox girl’s school, also covered by the JTA. Israeli army posts have also been targeted by militant settlers.

On the mosque attacks, the New Israel Fund emails supporters:

Something awful happened in Israel on Monday. Unknown assailants torched a mosque in the Galilee village of Tuba-Zangariya. Police report that the mosque was seriously damaged. Korans were burned.

Hebrew graffiti scrawled on the mosque suggests that Jewish extremists perpetrated the arson as part of an orchestrated campaign to deter the Israeli government from cracking down on radical settlers. Mosques in the West Bank, and even Israeli military compounds, have suffered similar attacks in recent months.

We’re not going to let extremists tear Israeli society apart.

Here’s a taste of how NIF is reacting:

Tomorrow, Banish the Darkness — an NIF-funded coalition — is organizing a visit to Tuba-Zangariya to meet with the residents and with the imam of the mosque. Rabbis from across Israel, representatives of Jewish communities in the Galilee, and other dignitaries will take part. 19 organizations will be represented.

The message is simple: Burning a mosque is wrong. It’s not Jewish. It’s especially horrible that it happened during the Ten Days of Repentance. We should be using this time to reflect and to improve the world, not to sow division or to desecrate our neighbors’ holy places.

Thankfully, we’re not alone. Some of these messages have already been echoed by some of Israel’s most prominent figures, including President Peres who made the effort to go to Tuba-Zangariya.

NIF is also mobilizing globally to stand with those in Israel who are building a more peaceful future. Earlier today, we put out a call for rabbis everywhere to sign this statement condemning the violence and praising those Israelis who are standing up to racism.

I need your help with this campaign. Take a moment, right now, to ask your rabbi — or a rabbi who works in your community — to sign this statement. You can just forward them this note.

Especially now — in the midst of the High Holidays — we need hundreds of rabbis to sign on. We must make clear that friends of Israel worldwide are determined to hold onto the vision of Israel enshrined in its Declaration of Independence: “Israel will… safeguard the sanctity and inviolability of the shrines and Holy Places of all religions.”

NIF is not just responding to the current crisis. We’re working day-in and day-out to combat racism and to build a strong Israeli society. After the media has packed up and gone home — after everybody has forgotten about the small Galilee village of Tuba-Zangariya — NIF will be there, just as we have been for years.

You and I know that for Jews and Arabs to live in partnership, all Israelis need to feel a sense of ownership for their society.

That’s why Shatil — NIF’s action arm — is pioneering an initiative called “Shared Society.” We’re  bringing together Israelis of different stripes — Arab, Jewish, Ethiopian, Russian, Mizrachi (to name a few) — to engage in meaningful dialogue and to plan joint activities.  Israel shouldn’t just be a place where these communities get by living side-by-side. Israel should be a place where these communities thrive, where they work in concert as part of a truly shared nation.

It’s about relationships. It’s about trust. It’s about forging partnerships.

That’s the type of work that NIF does. Every. Single. Day.

It’s vital work. I’m proud to be a part of it. And I’m proud to have you as our partner.

Daniel Sokatch
CEO, New Israel Fund

Israeli secularists are in urgent need of support.

But the Green Party has tied its own hands, excluding Israeli extremists and progressives alike by participating in the draconian Israel boycott campaign, and sustaining its own harmful internal and external discourse in which Israel is spoken and written of as if its struggling progressives didn’t exist.