Washington, DC/Jerusalem, October 6: In only 24 hours, almost 1000 rabbis from around the world have signed a statement condemning the burning of the mosque in Tuba-Zangariya earlier this week. The statement was initiated by the New Israel Fund and was presented today to the Imam of the village of Tuba-Zangariya by dozens of rabbis and other activists participating in a solidarity convoy to the village.
The rabbis’ statement says, in part: “As religious leaders and representatives of Jewish houses of worship around the world, we wish to express our deep sadness and outrage at the desecration of a mosque in the Bedouin village of Tuba-Zangariya. We condemn this act as an affront to G-d and to the values of our Torah. We extend a hand in friendship and solidarity to the leaders and residents of the town, a prayer for their safety and peace in the days to come, and a hope that those who perpetrated this despicable act will be brought to justice. We condemn those in Israel who exacerbate conflict and strife, and who insist that only one people or religion belongs to this land.”
The text of the statement and the list of the signatories can be accessed at: http://www.nif.org/RabbisStatement
The Brit Choshech Legaresh (“Banish the Darkness”) coalition, which is financially supported by NIF, led the convoy to Tuba-Zangariya. The coalition was established after the publication of the controversial and inciting book Torat Hamelech (“The King’s Torah”) in September 2009, mobilizing a forceful public response to the book, which argues that Jewish law permits and even encourages the murder of Gentiles. The members of the coalition are religious and secular organizations fighting to garner public opposition to religious racism as a desecration of God’s name and a distortion of Judaism. In addition, Brit Choshech Legaresh struggles daily against all incidents of racism in Israel.
At the event in Tuba-Zangariya, lifelong peace activist and NIF board member Sarah Ozacky-Lazar said: “Over the past summer a different spirit swept the country blowing aside for the moment differences of nationality, religion, class and gender and generating a feeling of a rejuvenated Israeli identity struggling for joint values and respecting all men and citizens.
“This despicable act carried out here at a mosque in the heart of Tuba Zangaria is aimed at murdering this spirit, to rekindle hatred and fear, to sabotage the path to peace and tolerance and mutual respect, and perpetuate the vicious circle of destruction and bloodshed, and sow despair and dread”
“We must work together more strenuously to erase this disgrace and to prevent its recurrence and to protect the image of God and man.”
The New Israel Fund family of organizations has been active for more than thirty years in fighting for human rights and religious pluralism in Israel. The recent escalation of extremist rhetoric by ultranationalists in Israel and the territories has accelerated our work against racism, which included a letter signed by more than 1,000 rabbis last year calling on their colleagues in Israel to speak out against a rabbinical edict “prohibiting” Israeli Jews from renting or selling property to non-Jews.
“We will continue to ask leaders of the Jewish community worldwide to speak out against the tide of extremist violence in Israel and the territories,” said NIF COO David Rosenn, himself a Conservative rabbi. “The real ‘price tag’ for this violence is a terrible rending of the fabric of Israeli society. Burning a house of God is particularly egregious, but all of these acts constitute a flagrant challenge to Jewish history and values, and Jewish religious leaders of all denominations will continue to raise their voices to make this point.”