Saperstein: Such violence has no place in any civilized society, much less Israel, the nation state of the Jewish people who have throughout history known similar horrors rooted in ethnic and religious differences.
May 24, 2012 Washington DC - In response to the violence yesterday in Tel Aviv that began with a rally concerning the presence of African migrants in Israel, Rabbi David Saperstein issued the following statement:
We unequivocally condemn the violence yesterday in Tel Aviv against members of the African migrant community. Such violence has no place in any civilized society, much less Israel, the nation state of the Jewish people who have throughout history known similar horrors rooted in ethnic and religious differences.
The presence of thousands of African migrants in Israel is a testament to Israel's status as a democracy and nation that respects human rights in a region where those qualities are sorely lacking. No doubt the economic, security, and social challenges posed by the influx of refugees are significant. Thoughtful discussion and policy debates must be at the core of any response to these challenges. It is shameful that yesterday's rally instead devolved into chaos and brutality. It is also shameful that members of the Knesset made inflammatory statements that likely contributed to an atmosphere conducive to such violence.
We welcome Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu's condemnation of the violence and the vitriolic comments that preceded it. The words of Leviticus remind us, "When strangers sojourn with you in your land, you shall not do them wrong. The strangers who sojourn with you shall be to you as the natives among you, and you shall love them as yourself; for you were strangers in the land of Egypt" [19:33-34].
We call on the Israeli public and government to repudiate violence such as yesterday's and instead work toward a peaceful resolution of these issues, reflecting our values and role as heirs to a prophetic tradition.