This week, Im Tirtzu released a video accusing well-known human rights activists in Israel as being enemy agents of the state, while President Rivlin has continued to be the target of incendiary language, most recently from the Heritage Channel and the new media adviser and head of public diplomacy and media in the Prime Minister’s Office.
The worldwide Conservative/Masorti movement jointly calls on Prime Minister Netanyahu, as leader of the Israeli government, to make it known that there is no room in an Israeli democracy for this type of rhetoric. We must hold leaders and neighbors alike accountable for a society in which issues are debated based on facts, people are treated with respect regardless of their beliefs, and tolerance and acceptance drown out the noise of hate.
Words matter. They have the power to heal and the power to destroy. They can create love and they can foster hate. God created Earth through words - "And God said, let there be light"- which we, as Jews, express daily during morning prayers –"Blessed is the one who spoke, and the world came into being."
It has become increasingly common for people, including those in leadership positions, to use words as weapons, exploiting serious and complex issues to further their own agendas.
This type of incitement needs to be stopped. The Torah strictly forbids slanderous speech. Ads such as the one publicized by Im Tirzu threatens both the survival of an Israeli democracy and unity of the Jewish people. They remove the possibility of reasonable discussion, inflames tension and ultimately can lead to a dangerous path, wherein there is justification to physically hurt those who think differently.
Regardless of position or belief, slander of one’s enemy can be dangerous and deadly. As Meyer Gottlieb, President of Samuel Goldwyn Films and a Holocaust survivor, said in a feature story this week to commemorate the 70th anniversary of the end of the Holocaust, "The truth of the matter is that the weapons of massive destruction are not bombs — they’re hatred, intolerance and bigotry."
The Jewish Theological Seminary
The Masorti Movement in Israel
Mercaz Olami, Mercaz USA and Mercaz Canada
The Rabbinical Assembly
The United Synagogue of Conservative Judaism
The Zeigler School of Rabbinic Studies