Israel news photo: Flash 90
Knesset Speaker Reuven Rivlin (Likud) has joined the voices condemning the letter signed by 300 rabbis, that calls on Jews not to sell or rent out homes to Arabs. The letter was in response to growing awareness that significant areas of Israel that are uniquely Jewish in character and cultural atmosphere are changing as increasing numbersof Arabs move to them from their towns and villages.
Rabbi Chaim Druckman, venerable hesder yeshiva head, has said that he will reword the letter to eliminate any possible generalization and write instead that there is a difference between the attitude towards Israeli Arabs who are loyal to the state and to those who are not.
In a statement Tuesday, Rivlin compared the rabbis' letter to the leftist "artists' letter
" against performing in Ariel, as what he considers two examples of non-constructive behavior in Israeli society . Theaters are state supported, however, while private property owners are free to do as they wish.
He did not mention the apparent contradictory responses on the part of the left i.e. how it is that leftist groups demonstrate to keep Jews out of Arab neighborhoods in Jerusalem, receiving sympathetic media coverage, although these Jews have deeds proving that the properties they wish to live in are theirs. He also did not mention those who demand that Jews leave Hevron where they also own property, as well as wishing to see the rest of Judea and Samaria judenrein.
On Israel's Kol Chai radio station, an announcer and caller wondered what would happen if Arabs moved to the posh neighborhoods lived in by many of those who condemned the letter.
Rivlin spoke at a Knesset plenary session honoring international Human Rights Day.
"No single sector in Israel may blindly fortify itself within its value system and sanctify its own natural rights and those of its friends, as it sees them," Rivlin said. He also did not mention the fact that Israel's Arab citizens violently expel
any Jew who attempts to live among them in 'Arab' villages.
Tthe decree "contradicts the right of Israeli citizens and residents to equality, housing and property, and actively promotes discrimination. If this were said against Jews abroad, there would be an immediate hue and cry in Israel," he said. No Jews, however, were ever a danger to their host countries, whereas a sizable proportion of Arab Israeli citizens identify with anti-Zionism..
He called the rabbis' letter "a sin against Israeli society, against Israeli democracy, and above all, a sin against the common future we all have in the democratic and Jewish state of Israel."
Rivlin also blasted the artists' boycott of Ariel and warned that "if Israeli society is headed toward mutual boycotts, then we are situated at the beginning of the end."
He urged that the debate over Israel's future and "the resolution of the tension between the 'Jewish' and 'democratic'" aspects of the state be carried out in the Knesset, and not in the High Court.
Rivlin's critics from the right have often charged that he is overly preoccupied with pandering to Israel's Arab citizenry, because he requires the support of Arab Knesset members in order to fulfill his dream of becoming Israel's president.