Hundreds of US rabbis sign letter in protest of new far-right Israeli government
Hundreds of rabbis in the United States have signed a letter in protest of Israel's new far-right government and promised to block some of their more extreme members from speaking at their congregations.
The letter, drafted by Rabbi David Teutsch, a former executive director of Reconstructing Judaism, along with Rabbi John L. Rosove, former chair of the Association of Reform Zionists of America, was signed by more than 300 rabbis from the conservative and reform movements of Judaism, Religion News reported on Friday.
"We, the undersigned, who care deeply about the security and well-being of the democratic State of Israel, are signing this letter of protest, pledging to not invite any members of the RZP [Religious Zionist Party] bloc – including but not limited to Otzma Yehudit leaders – to speak at our congregations and organizations," the letter reads.
"We will speak out against their participation in other fora across our communities."
The letter lists areas of concern for the rabbis regarding civil rights and rule of law in Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories.
These include changing the law of return; revoking the rights of women and the LGBTQ community; annexing the West Bank, thereby eroding Israeli democracy; and expelling Arab Israeli citizens seen as opposing the government, a test of the democratic right to free speech.
"We will encourage the boards of our congregations and organizations to join us in this protest as a demonstration of our commitment to our Jewish and democratic values," the rabbis warned.
The letter concluded with a pledge to continue speaking out against what they see as injustice by the new Israeli government.
"When those who tout racism and bigotry claim to speak in the name of Israel, but deny our rights, our heritage, and the rights of the most vulnerable among us, we must take action," it reads.
"We must speak out. We must show the world that we are a people whose founding principles require us to see every person as B’tzelem Elohim–in the image of God."
As of Friday evening, it appeared that they were continuing to solicit signatures for their letter.