This is the Israel I know and love. Shukreya Natalie Wood for sending me this newsletter.
Dear friends of IRAC,Racial incitement in the name of Judaism is a regular occurrence in Israel. IRAC works to change this reality. On the last day of the summer Knesset session, we presented a bill supported by twenty Knesset members to better define racial incitement and to regulate enforcement.
Tomorrow, IRAC is organizing a conference in the Knesset to present a report about racist incitement by rabbis. This is the first report of its kind, compiling detailed cases of incitement by state funded rabbis. The forty-page report includes some material that is very difficult, such as the book Torat Hamelech which states that “Jews can kill non-Jewish babies because they may one day grow up to be enemies.”
Incitement is a criminal offense in Israel. Unfortunately, there has been almost no enforcement in the case of rabbis. Forty eight cases have been brought to court and in only one case was there a conviction. None of the rabbis featured in our report, most of whom are state funded, has had a disciplinary case opened against them.
We created this report to remind the Israeli public of the harm that incitement can cause. We are also showing that the racist interpretations that some rabbis have espoused are an extremely fundamentalist approach to halacha, Jewish law . The bible reminds us thirty-six times to treat strangers kindly because we were once strangers in Egypt. By bringing this report to the Knesset, we aim to raise awareness that these rabbis are being financed by the public and that there should be a limit to what they can or cannot do.
Words can kill. The language of incitement that the rabbis use can draw real blood as we learned sixteen years ago when Yitzhak Rabin was assassinated. Yigal Amir murdered Rabin at a peace rally that followed a barrage of statements by radicals, among them rabbis, calling for Rabin’s death. Without rabbinic consent this would never have happened. Rabin’s murder was inspired by these extremists. They were using halacha to challenge the law of Israel.
Has anything changed since Rabin’s assassination? A poll was released today stating that 39% of Israeli Jews believe another politically motivated murder is possible. We continue to see the consequences of incitement. Rabin’s death is only the most extreme example but it doesn’t end there. Seven mosques have been burned in the last few months by price tag attacks inspired by rabbis.
The use of provocative language in this country is a dangerous threat to us all. Let’s do something about it.
P.S. We had our first freedom ride last week. See Katie, our Communications Fellows reflections on our new blog post“The wind of social justice” .