I read with sadness the results of the recent Pew study indicating that almost half of Israeli Jews believe “Arabs should be expelled or transferred from Israel”. This is not the Judaism, nor the Zionist vision, on which the Israel that I love was founded.
Yet like all difficult dynamics, I believe this can change. Israel is a country that has witnessed monumental change in its short history. At every turn, people have described the status quo as immovable. I remember it being said that “Israel will never make peace with Egypt.” History shows it only takes a moment of inspired leadership to shift discourse in a new direction. The presence of President Sadat in the Knesset was a symbolic gesture which totally altered national opinion and history.
The Israel that can be, that surely must be, is a society built on Jewish values: love towards the stranger, the pursuit of justice and a drive for equality.
If Israelis are presented with a more compelling vision for coexistence, then views towards Arab Israelis will change. We must redouble our efforts to strengthen the Israeli voices supporting these aims.
Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner
Senior Rabbi to Reform Judaism