The news out of Israel keeps getting worse. The murders of the Israeli and Palestinian teenagers and the aftermath of reaction and incitement have now been overtaken by a military confrontation.
None of us know how extensive this conflict will be, but I do know that many members of the New Israel Fund family stand ready to assist the most vulnerable Israelis, both Jewish and Arab, who are living under threat of rocket fire.
Protecting marginalized communities is what NIF does. This morning, our senior program staff established a Situation Room in Jerusalem to be able to respond quickly to the needs of those who may otherwise be overlooked.
This situation is very fluid. We will share more information as it becomes available.
We have other tasks, too. This escalation comes as Israel was coping with the trauma of the slain Jewish and Arab teenagers. Those events exposed a great deal of incitement from extremists, including from Israeli ultranationalists who have become increasingly brazen.
The expressions of hatred and violence we saw furthered the rift between Jewish and Arab citizens, leaving an open wound. This wound is a danger to Israel’s future that no military operation can address. Rather, it’s a challenge that must be confronted by everyday citizens with the courage to build a shared society together.
Time and again, I am inspired by the capacity of regular people to reach out and make their society better. Just yesterday, even as the violence was ramping up, nearly 400 Israelis joined together to pay a massive condolence call to the family of Muhammad Abu Khdeir, the murdered Palestinian boy.
It was a simple and profound show of humanity.
Times like these test the character of a society. We know that Jewish extremists will step up their calls for collective punishment and for revenge, further alienating Palestinian citizens of Israel. Ultranationalists are also sure to attack the human rights groups that monitor events on the ground.
This is the moment to reinforce our support for Israel as a democracy and as a society that values all of its citizens. This is the moment when the work of Israel’s human rights champions is so vital. This is the moment to start healing the divides between Jewish and Arab Israelis.
Dozens of initiatives with the power to unite Israelis were underway before the situation escalated. They included watchdog efforts to monitor incitement, plans for Jewish-Arab solidarity visits, large rallies showing support for a shared society, and more.
NIF will make sure that these programs press ahead so that Israel can heal.
I know that you stand with me in solidarity with our dedicated staff and the activists we support in Israel. They are a microcosm of modern Israel -- Jewish and Palestinian Israelis, religious and secular, new immigrants and veteran Israelis -- who work together every day to build a better Israel.
Their work is vital. And so is your partnership, especially in these difficult times.
As always, thank you for all you do.