October 27, 1997
The Jewish Council for Public Affairs (JCPA) adopted the attached statement on “Extremist Rhetoric, Violence and Civil Dialogue” at its 1996 Plenum, with the support of the Reform, Conservative and Orthodox movements. Consistent with the principles articulated therein, the JCPA strongly condemns the recent acts of arson, vandalism and desecration perpetrated against religious institutions in Israel, as well as attacks directed against individuals based on their religious identities.
Jews around the world react with horror and concern when synagogues are vandalized and marked with anti-Semitic symbols, and individuals are attacked because of their religious identities. Just as we have called upon other governments, including our own, to condemn and take action against perpetrators of such acts, we call upon the Government of Israel to move swiftly to prevent any further attacks against individuals and Jewish institutions of any kind. We ask to be informed of the government’s response in furtherance of its commitment to protect all Israeli citizens.
The recent attacks appear to be part of a growing pattern of harassment against religious institutions and individuals in Israel. As such, every sector of Israeli society – including government, law enforcement, the media and key religious, educational and community institutions – needs to be actively involved in efforts to stop such hate-filled acts. One area of critical focus should be the determination of whether there is a significant link between an increased atmosphere of intolerance and the proliferation of extremist acts.
We strongly urge that the Israeli government make the response to, and prevention of, criminal and hate-filled acts against religious institutions and individuals a high national priority.