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Reform Movement Horrified by Attack on Arab Teen

Rabbis Saperstein and Orkand: "The attack, which left one of the victims unconscious, requiring resuscitation, shames both the attackers and those who failed to stop it."

Contact: Sean Thibault or Katharine Nasielski
202.387.2800 |

WASHINGTON, D.C., August 23, 2012 -- In light of the violence in Israel this weekend perpetrated by extremist Israeli Jews, Rabbi David Saperstein, Director of the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism, and Rabbi Robert Orkand, President of the Association of Reform Zionists of America, issued the following statement:

“We are horrified by this week's attack in Jerusalem's Kikar Zion, Zion Square, on three Arab teens, perpetrated by a large group of other Jewish Israeli teens while an even larger crowd of Israelis looked on. The attack, which left one of the victims unconscious, requiring resuscitation, shames both the attackers and those who failed to stop it.

Equally disturbing were the comments of one of purported attackers, who after being arrested by police said: "For my part he can die, he's an Arab." This kind of racist mentality seems to be growing and reflects alarming and disturbing trends in Israeli society that threaten to tear the nation apart; erode the values of democracy, tolerance, and equal rights; and threaten the Zionist endeavor. This requires firm and constant efforts of Israeli political, civic, cultural, educational and religious leaders to delegitimize such views and actions as having no place in a Jewish State.

This attack was reported within hours of a firebombing of a Palestinian taxicab outside the Gush Etzion settlement of Bat Ayin. Six Palestinians were injured, further exacerbating an atmosphere of tension and fear. The pattern of such violence in the West Bank requires a vigorous response by responsible leaders and law enforcement officials must bring the perpetrators to justice, whoever they may be. If this turns out to be another example of Jewish settler violence against Palestinians, it is further testimony of the urgent need of Israeli officials to crack down on such growing instances.

A terrible price has been paid in lives lost, health destroyed and comity among the peoples of Israel damaged. We pray for the healing of the injured and call on the Israeli judicial system to hold the perpetrators accountable."

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