As the brouhaha over the New Israel Fund was beginning to unfold, the NIF held a public forum in Manhattan on Sunday, Jan. 31. Rabbi Jeff Marker reported about it on his Weblog. He concluded sagely as follows:
One thing which struck me, but was not articulated by the speakers, was the political difference in how two minorities are treated in Israel. Both the Arab population and the “religious” Jewish population are between 15-20% of the population. To create a majority in the Knesset all the main stream parties depend on the religious parties which gives them tremendous clout. Yet no party dares include the Arab supported parties in government, which means that the left or even left-center has no hope of forming a government without some religious parties.
The afternoon was full of a combination of problems and determination. Even with all the frustration, it was good to be in a hall full of people who are committed to a democratic and tolerant Israel which respects its minorities.