Reform Movement Voices Support for Israeli Arabs

The Reform movement voiced its support for Israeli Arabs and accused Israel of discrimination against its non-Jewish citizens.

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Zalman Nelson,

CCAR Director Ellen Dreyfus
CCAR Director Ellen Dreyfus
Israel news photo: (file)

The Central Conference of American Rabbis (CCAR) voiced its support this week for the Arab citizens of Israel and denounced any laws “that would limit the citizenship rights of and equal governmental services to non-Jewish citizens of Israel.” The move came in response to recent efforts to require an oath of loyalty for all Israeli citizens.

A Knesset bill was proposed earlier this year that would have required all Israeli citizens to take an oath of loyalty. Such a pledge is not unusual in countries around the world: the Pledge of Allegiance was recited each morning by United States public school children until very recently.

The proposed requirement for Israeli citizens to pledge their allegiance to the State came following increases in both the number of attacks by Israeli Arabs terrorists against Jews, and anti-Zionist rhetoric coming from the Israeli Arab community. Recent polls have revealed that a large majority of Israeli Arabs reject the right of Israel to exist as a Jewish State, and as much as 73 percent oppose the State of Israel.

An umbrella body for some 2,000 American Reform leaders, the CCAR's announcement endorsed the mission statement of the Inter-Agency Task Force on Israeli Arab Issues and lent its full support to “all efforts to realize the promise of full and equal citizenship rights and privileges for all Arab citizens of Israel, as envisioned in Israel’s Declaration of Independence.”

The CCAR statement accused Israel of providing its Israeli Arabs with civil rights and citizenship benefits “not on par with those offered to Jewish citizens,” and demanded equal educational opportunity for non-Jewish children in Israel. “Even if ‘separate but equal’ is preferred by both Jews and Arabs in Israel, that separate education must truly be equal, including funding at every level,” read the statement.

At the famous Pittsburgh Conference of 1885, the Reform movement officially decided to oppose Zionism and declared that it “disavowed a hope or goal of returning to Zion”. The movement changed its position after the State of Israel was founded in 1948.

The CCAR was founded in 1889 and calls itself the organized rabbinate of Reform Judaism.