Our thanks to Lilly Rivlin for informing us of this commentary by Anat Hoffman, a former Meretz member of the Jerusalem city council who now serves as executive director of the Israel Religious Action Center. This JTA op-ed begins with a mention of Lilly’s cousin, Reuven Rivlin:
After Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin (a leader in the Likud party) visited 17-year-old Jamal Julany, one of the victims of the racist attack in Zion Square he apologized to the victim: “We are sorry… It is hard to see you hospitalized because of an inconceivable act… What happened is the responsibility of every leader and Member of Knesset.”
…. An honest evaluation will reveal that this unprovoked attack on three Arab youths by dozens of Israeli teenagers is part of a phenomenon much broader than the character of these youths. It is a result of the chronology of prolonged government tolerance towards Jewish religious extremism and its manifestations and of the Israeli government’s tacit acceptance of racist incitement towards Israel’s Arab minority by certain members of Knesset and a number of extreme Orthodox rabbis.
Every religion has its extremists. Judaism is no different. The leading rabbinic figure in this raging culture war is the Chief Rabbi of Safed, Shmuel Eliyahu. He has repeatedly called Israel’s 1.2 million Arab citizens “the enemy.” He urged Jews not to rent or sell apartments to Arabs, and he claims all Arabs have a violent nature. In his manifesto (published in March 2008) he writes, “The time has come to tell the truth. Providing a livelihood for our enemies leads to grave consequences.”
Shmuel Eliyahu is not alone. There are approximately 50 state-employed Israeli rabbis who, like Eliyahu, engage openly in racist rhetoric towards non-Jews, with impunity. While Israeli law clearly states that racist incitement is a criminal offense, to date, there have been no disciplinary measures or a serious police investigation. …
Click here to read this entire article.
This Daily Beast commentary by McGill University historian Gil Troy also focuses upon Speaker Rivlin. Prof. Troy contends that “a true, nuanced conversation about Israel—like all democratic societies—must acknowledge the good and the bad,” e.g., both instances of violence against the Palestinian minority and Israel’s “leaders’ anguished but constructive response.”
…. the entire Israeli political establishment led by Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu united in what President Shimon Peres called “shame and outrage.” Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin visited Julani and his family in Hadassah Hospital, which itself happens to be a lush garden of Arab-Jewish cooperation, where individuals work naturally with each other and serve human beings with tremendous dignity, no matter what their ethnicity, citizenship, or religion.
“It is hard to see you lying in the hospital because of an unimaginable, outrageous act,” Rivlin told Julani, who is now at home. “I came here in the name of the State of Israel, in order to apologize and express anger over what happened.” Rivlin, a proud right-wing Likudnik, was particularly appalled that some of the hooligans wore Betar soccer shirts. …