PM Statement Regarding Israeli Arab Voters Unacceptable

NEW YORK – On Tuesday, March 17, as Israel held its elections, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu stated: “The right-wing government is in danger. Arab voters are going en masse to the polls.” The Rabbinical Assembly, the association of Conservative/Masorti rabbis, condemns this statement and calls on the Prime Minister to unite, rather than divide, the people of Israel. Rabbi William Gershon and Rabbi Julie Schonfeld, president and executive vice president, respectively, released the following statement:

The Jewish people have been subject to political persecution and vilification for over 2,000 years.  It is for this reason, among others, that when the State of Israel was founded, it committed itself to the equality of all of its citizens.  The Israel Declaration of Independence unambiguously states that Israel ‘will ensure complete equality of social and political rights to all its inhabitants irrespective of religion, race or sex.’  Israel’s commitment to equality, justice and democracy is the underpinning of its special relationship with the United States and distinguishes Israel from despotic regimes in the Middle East and around the world. 

On Election Day, March 17, 2015, Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu indicated that Israel was endangered by Israeli Arabs exercising their right to vote. ‘The right-wing government is in danger. Arab voters are going en masse to the polls,’ said Prime Minister Netanyahu. This statement, which indefensibly singled out the Arab citizens of Israel, is unacceptable and undermines the principles upon which the State of Israel was founded. Because we proudly and unreservedly continue our unflagging support for the State of Israel, its citizens and its values, we must condemn the Prime Minister’s statement, singling out Arab citizens for exercising their legitimate right to vote.  It is incumbent upon Jews around the world to denounce the Prime Minister’s divisive and undemocratic statement and we do so here.

In the aftermath of the election, we call upon the Prime Minister to use his authority to unify all the citizens of the State of Israel, regardless of religion or ethnicity, as demanded by the guiding principles upon which Israel was founded and of democracy for which the State of Israel stands.