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Orthodox Jews and Arabs to March in Solidarity in Umm El Fahm

2 April 2009

Jerusalem: In response to last week’s incendiary march by right-wing extremists, religious Jews will lead social activists and citizens alike in the Israeli-Arab city of Umm El Fahm to express solidarity with the local residents and Arab citizens of Israel.  The event is being organized by the orthodox forum 12th of Heshvan (Yud Bet B’Heshvan), in cooperation with the New Israel Fund (NIF).

The rally will take place at 4:30 pm on Sunday, April 5th, a few days before Passover, to highlight the need for peace and unity and to counter the attempts to delegitimize the citizenship and civil rights of Arabs citizens of Israel.

Beginning in the main square of Umm El Fahm, the rally will continue as a joint solidarity march for co-existence.  Participants will march together from the entrance to Umm El Fahm to the municipality, carrying bouquets and signs in Hebrew and in Arabic saying “solidarity, peace and fraternity.”
Speakers slated to address the rally include: Umm El Fahm Mayor Agberyah; Eliezer Ya’ari, Executive Director of the New Israel Fund in Israel; Professor Michel Ravel, recipient of the Israel prize and Head of the National Bio-Ethics Committee; and Chana Kehat, founder of NIF feminist-Orthodox grantee Kolech and a member of the Yud Bet B’Heshvan Forum.

Former MK Professor Naomi Chazan, President of the New Israel Fund, commented, “ We would like to say on the eve of the Passover holiday to those who initiated last week’s hate march in Umm El Fahm: you do not represent the nation of Israel.  We send from here a message of hope and solidarity to the Arab and Jewish citizens of Israel.  Good will, mutual respect and concern for the other are building blocks for shared living and peace for all of us.”

Yud Bet B’Heshvan – the Hebrew date of Rabin’s assassination – is an NIF-sponsored forum of Orthodox Jewish organizations working to promote openness, pluralism and tolerance.

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