The leader of the largest Jewish group in North America has criticized Israel’s policies toward Palestinians as “misguided.”
“Asking Jews around the world only to wave the flag of Israel and to support even the most misguided policies of its leaders drives a wedge between the Jewish soul and the Jewish state. It is beyond counterproductive,” Rabbi Rick Jacobs, president of the Union for Reform Judaism, said in a speech Thursday night at the union’s biennial conference in the US city of Orlando, Florida.
The Rabbi said the Jewish community must not remain silent when hate-crime attacks kill innocent Palestinians in the occupied territories.
Jacobs also said that the reform movement “has long opposed Israeli settlement policy in the West Bank.”
“It causes pain and hardship for the Palestinians and alienates Israel from friends and allies around the world,” he added. “Only two states for two people, both states viable and secure, living side by side in peace, will bring the conflict to an end.”
The reform leader also condemned Israel’s treatment of its minorities.
“Jews who see brokenness in the treatment of Israel’s minorities, or in the way ultra-Orthodox views of Judaism are being enshrined in secular law, are being told that, when it comes to Israel, you should check your commitment to tikkun olam at the door; we will not,” Jacobs said.
Tikkun olam is a Jewish concept characterized by acts of kindness performed to repair the world. The Reform leader said it also applies to repairing Israel.
“Many Jews, especially younger ones, feel that Israel has become too intolerant not just of Arab citizens of Israel, but also of non-Orthodox Jews, Ethiopian Jews…,” he noted.
Tensions have been running especially high since August when the Israeli regime imposed restrictions on the entry of some Palestinians into the al-Aqsa Mosque in East al-Quds (Jerusalem)--the third holiest site in Islam.
According to the latest figures by the Palestinian Health Ministry, at least 76 Palestinians, including 17 children, have lost their lives at the hands of Israeli forces since the beginning of October.
More than half a million Israelis live in over 120 illegal settlements built since Israel’s occupation of the Palestinian territories of the West Bank and East al-Quds in 1967.