March 20, 2023
The Central Conference of American Rabbis deplores the violence and incitement directed at the hundreds of thousands of Israelis who have repeatedly taken to the streets in pro-democracy protests.
We are appalled that National Security Minister Itamar Ben-Gvir and other extremists in the Israeli government have wrongly labeled peaceful protestors as “anarchists.” Yair Netanyahu, the Prime Minister’s son, has compared the protestors to Nazi Brownshirts. We know well that such incendiary words have led to bloodshed in the past and are unnecessarily inflaming an already tense situation. The incitement must stop now. We are grateful that Israel’s High Court of Justice has ruled that Ben-Gvir may no longer issue operational directives to the Israeli police, potentially mitigating his ability to order a violent response to those demonstrating in opposition to the judicial overhaul.
Less than a month ago, hundreds of CCAR rabbis stood shoulder-to-shoulder with crowds of democracy-loving Israelis, protesting the proposed judicial coup. Reform rabbis saw with our own eyes: These demonstrations are peaceful. Our Israeli Reform rabbinic colleagues and members of their communities are joining protests every week, often more than once a week. These protestors are patriotic; the Israeli flag is their primary banner.
Peaceful protestors in Israel are heeding the prophetic call:
“Cry with a full throat, without restraint;
Raise your voice like a shofar!
Declare to My people their transgression,
To the House of Jacob their sin.” (Isaiah 58:1).
Rabbi Erica Asch, President
Rabbi Hara E. Person, Chief Executive
Central Conference of American Rabbis