UPJ sends letter of protest to Israeli PM

September 5, 2012 by  
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Australia’s Union for Progressive Judaism has written to Israeli Prime Minister Benyamin Netanyahu outlining deep concern about the recent attacks on Palestinians in Jerusalem.

The letter, signed by the executive director of the UPJ Steve Denenberg, states:

Steve Denenberg

The Religious Action and Advocacy Centre (JRAAC) of the Union for Progressive Judaism has considered recent attacks on Palestinians in Jerusalem and near Bat Ayin as well as the response from the Government of Israel. JRAAC shares your condemnation of these racist, violent events.

It is a great testimony to the democratic nature of Israeli society that a racist attack by Jews on Arabs would be so widely condemned, including a visit and an apology to one victim from Knesset Speaker, Reuven Rivlin and a public statement from you. We believe that these comments echo the revulsion felt by the vast majority of Jews in Israel and around the world.

However, these public statements need to be accompanied by more effective education of Israeli children so that these types of incidents do not recur. As President Peres has said: “Young people needed to learn to live in peace with each other”. We see the need not only for greater attention to the education of the young, but also an end to prolonged Israeli Government tolerance of Jewish extremism and of the government’s tacit acceptance of incitement toward Israel’s Arab minority by certain members of Knesset and a number of extreme Orthodox rabbis.

We also need to express our concern at the behaviour of certain State employed rabbis who appear to be using their position to incite racial hatred against non-Jews. We urge you to consider the need for their behaviour to be properly investigated and, if found to be as described, they should be appropriately disciplined.

The Israel Religious Action Centre is currently monitoring inflammatory statements by such rabbis and is pursuing legal and public action against them. Their recent report, “Love the Stranger as Yourself? Racism in the Name of Halacha” details this disturbing trend.

At this time the Israeli Movement for Progressive Judaism is working to answer the questions that these recent events pose: What is our Jewish obligation to the non- Jewish minority in Israel? How do we respond to the objectification of women? And how to we address the presence of racist attitudes and behaviour in the Jewish community.

We echo the words of Anat Hoffman that Jews in Israel and in the Diaspora must offer answers to these burning questions. Jews everywhere have the responsibility to respond to provocative statements by Jewish extremists. It is our duty as Jews to remind others and ourselves that the Torah commands us to “love the stranger” more times than any other commandment. We would like to know what actions the Government of Israel proposes to take, beyond the prosecution of those alleged to have committed these crimes, to bring a greater sense of inclusion and cross-cultural understanding to Israeli society.


9 Responses to “UPJ sends letter of protest to Israeli PM”
  1. Avi says:

    I support Steve’s comments, AND I support the comments of the commentators to date – but not their vitriol.

    If I thought it would do any good to write to the anti-Semites Abu Abbas and Khaled Mashaal telling them not to teach hatred of Jews to Palestinian kids, then I’d do so in a flash. Rather, I support a strong, well-prepared, democratic Israel with an ethical police and armed forces prepared to defend our Jewish Homeland.

    That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t be justly critical of those who incite hatred within Israel – whether Jew or Arab. MK Ahmad Tibi often spouts hateful comments – e.g. “the Shahid is the symbol of the Homeland” and is rightly deserving of the condemnation he receives.

    Only a day or so ago the brother of Yitzhak Rabin’s murderer stated that the murder was justified. He is also deserving of condemnation. I hope all Jews feel the same way, but I realise there are some who, incredibly, support this assassination.

    There are many, many aspects of Israel that are praiseworthy (even miraculous). Perhaps we don’t praise Israel often enough, and that may be a useful learning. But there are some within Israel whose actions deserve reproach.

    Good on Bibi and Shimon Peres for condemning (and arresting) the youthful attackers in Jerusalem and Bat Ayin. Now they need to work to change the environment that led to those behaviours. “It is not for you to finish the work, nor are you free to desist from it.”

    • Paul Winter says:

      So you support Steve’s comments, Avi.

      What about the IRAC’s report “Love the Strangeras Yourself? Racism in the Name of Halacha”? But not a word about the same MK Tibi or Zubei or the PA funded imams preaching hate for Jews.

      Give me a break. Racism and baseless hate is primitive and inexcusable; it is entirely unJewish. But condemning Jews for lesser offenses against mohammedans than those committed against them is clearly biased and politically motivated against religious extremists. That political issue should not be dressed in religious garb. The use of religion by either Haredi or Progressive Jews to further their political agendas is equally abhorrent. As well, traumatised Israeli Jews should not be expected to display unconditional foregivness to enemies that celebrate the pain they inflict.

      Progressive Judaism is the creed of thinking Jews who draw lessons relevant to the times and the currenct state of knowledge. Double standards and moral equivalences give no evidence of thought.

      The IRAC report and Steve’s letter are completely unacceptable because they play into the hands of Israel’s enemies and those of all Jews. But that is one of the aims of post-Zionists, isn’t it?

  2. Paul Winter says:

    About 35 years ago I joined NSTE, a Reform Jewish Temple. Over that time, Reform Judaism has become Deformed Judaism. It is politicised and follows every PC trend. Thoughtlessly. The UPJ does not speak for me!!!

    As long as the JRAAC fails to condemn Arab/mohammedan violence against Jews, the war that the PA is fighting against Israel, the brutality of the societies around the Jewish state its backhanded compliment of Israel’s condemnation of Jewish violence against mohammedans is crass and despicable hypocrisy.

    Where was the JRAAC’s condemnation of the PA’s glorification of terrorists or its stipends for terrorists jailed by Israel? Where was the JRAAC’s condemnation of Jews assaulted and murdered? Why is this Deformed Judaism demanding the inculcation of Jews with the lesson Christians often preach but rarely practise in dealing with implacable, vengeful mohammedans?

    We don’t need rabbis nor their acolytes whose religion is politics and who try to press their politics on us under the guise of religion.

  3. Shirlee says:

    If Steve Denenberg is so concerned about the need not only for greater attention to the education of the young, but also an end to prolonged Israeli Government tolerance of Jewish extremism, maybe he should think first of telling that to the Arab/Muslim world. It seems to me they are the ones hell bent on killing and the destruction.

  4. Lynne Newington says:

    Well, that’s all said and done.

  5. michael says:

    How typical of the loony left or as they now prefer to be called ”Progressives” it is not enough they are hosting and promoting along side Palestinian lobby groups and Pro- Palestinian Jewish activists , they now ” selectively” write letters to the Israeli PM

    The Jewish progressives ‘ ” The best advocates the Palestinian/ Arab/ Muslim lobby have in Australia!

    Michael Burd.

  6. Miriam says:

    How can children learn to live in peace and respect for others when it is not modelled around them.

  7. Gedalia says:

    I didn’t see the letter that the UPJ sent to Abbas protesting his claim that there was never a Jewish Temple in Jerusalem. I didn’t see their letter of protest to Hanan Ashrawi who last week denied there were any Jewish refugees from Arab countries. I didn’t see their letter to Morsi protesting a violation of the peace agreement by shifting military forces into the Sinai.

  8. Otto Waldmann says:

    Well done Steve !!!

    An excellent oportunity to attack the State of Israel while pontificating on the moral superiority of the Progressive Movement. And while at it , it’s so good to see that you had a go at those Rabbis who wont set foot in your Temples, G-d only DOES know why !!!!!

    From your “Book of Eitzes” one can only deduct that nothing is more important than a good, solid Jewish communal cohesion, all embracing, as long as no tzitzkes, caftans or mere kippot get in the way.

    Someone tells me that in downtown Lakemba they are naming streets and public facilities after you.

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