June 1, 2013
|Dear Friends and Supporters,
This is a critical, defining moment when my father z”l would say that we shouldn’t look to either side of ourselves, but deep inside ourselves.
When I was a college student home on summer break, a Christian friend of mine accompanied me to a local production of “Fiddler on the Roof.” She burst into tears at the end, because of what “Her people” had done to mine.
Now, I want to burst into tears. I fully identify with Theodore Bikel, when he says in this short, powerful video clip, “It hurts.” It hurts to know that our people, the descendents of the Jews expelled from Anatevka, are about to expel some 40,000 Israeli citizens from their homes, demolish their villages, and dispossess them of much of their lands. Bikel, who has played “Tevye” in countless productions, amplifies the Torah’s command, “And you shall not oppress the non-Jew who lives among you, for you know the soul of the stranger, having yourselves been strangers in the land of Egypt.” (Exodus 23:9)
We need you to take immediate action,and to ask others to do so.
This week, the Israeli government submitted to the Knesset legislation (The Praver/Begin Bill) that will make this terrible desecration of God’s Name a reality. We will create a new “Pale of Settlement.” for Israeli Bedouin. You can see the map in the video clip.
The legislative process will begin next week. We must convince the government to withdraw the bill.
If we do not stop this legislation, our grandchildren will (or should) be bursting into tears when they contemplate the fact that the State of Israel uprooted and dispossessed 40,000 fellow citizens in the light of day, by official decree. They, and history, will not just judge the State of Israel. They will judge us.
Even those not troubled by matters of conscience should be asking why we would spend 6-8 billion shekels to force people into townships blighted by poverty, unemployment, crime and drugs. As our video clip dramatizes, this will be a disaster for all residents of the Negev, Jews as well as Arabs. We truly have before us “The blessing and the curse.” (Deuteronomy 30:19)
I am still betting on my People. I simply refuse to believe that, if Israelis would understand what they are about to do, that they would go through with it. I do not believe that you will allow this to happen.
This bill can be stopped, but we are going to have to work hard, even harder than we already have.
Our staff has been working extra hours. RHR and our coalition partners have spent much of these last few weeks speaking to Members of Knesset, and to minister’s aids. Some say this is already a done deal, or are busy with other pressing matters. Frankly, because the right wing believes that this bill is “too soft” on the Bedouin, many who know this is wrong simply believe that, in terms of “Realpolitik,” we must accept the uprooting of 40,000 citizens as the “Best deal the Bedouin are going to get.”
We need you to help us to help shake our fellow Israelis out of their complacency by holding up a big mirror to Israeli society. Expelling 40,000 citizens, demolishing their villages and stealing their lands is not just another little necessary political compromise. Like Joshua and Caleb in this week’s Torah portion, we must say that the common wisdom is not acceptable.
This means numbers. RHR and our international partners generated some 2,500 letters to ministers a few weeks ago. The Avaaz campaign has generated another several thousand letters to the heads of Knesset party factions. This has been a good start, but now we are at that critical point where we need the second effort that every athlete knows makes all the difference. My father would say that we look inside, and ask what is right. If you click and send a letter, we will generate several thousand letters, and that will be extremely helpful. If you make that extra, second effort to send a personal request to everybody you know, and to your synagogue/church/mosque or sport club mailing list, we can get to tens of thousands of letters.
So, what are we asking you to do? We have a series of actions, some only taking seconds. Do what you have time for, and then try to do at least one thing more.
Please send us a copy of all responses to email@example.com
Together, we will help Israel pull back from the brink, and make our grandchildren proud.
P.S. Sign up today for RHR’s Jewish Leadership Human Rights Tour October 2nd-9th. You will have the opportunity to wiitness our work first hand, and improve your knowledge of the issues by participating in this unforgettable experience.
P.S.S My June Schedule in the U.S.
June 4thMadison Public Talk at Sha’arei Shamayim, 7:00 PM
June 5thChicago. Available in Evening
June 6th Milwaukee. Please Contact Rabbi Marc Berkson firstname.lastname@example.org
Rabbis’ Meeting 3:30 PM
Parlor Meeting/Fundraiser 7:30 PM
June 7th, 9th, Chicago Available on 7th before Shabbat .
June 9th Pittsuburgh. Parlor meeting/Fundraiser 5:00 PM.
Please contact Nancy Bernstein at email@example.com.
June 10th Pittsburgh.
Lunchtime rabbis’ meeting TBA
Temple Rodef Shalom in Pittsburgh, 7:00 PM
June 11th Washington DC at the New America Foundation, 9:00 AM
June 13th Philadelphia TBA
June 14th-15th New York TBA
June 17th TBA
June 18th New York. Evening Parlor Meeting/Fundraiser. Please contact Ela Greenberg at firstname.lastname@example.org
In order to invite an RHR staff or board person to your community, please contact Ela Greenberg at email@example.com