The last few weeks have exposed the world to a new wave of racism and apartheid practices by Israel against its non-Jewish citizens. In this post, I will not discuss past and existing apartheid-like practices that target Israel's indigenous Palestinian and non-Jewish populations, such as the apartheid-wall, for-Jews-only neighborhoods/cities/colonies, for-Jews-only rights, for-Jews-only jobs, denial of right of return for non-Jewish refugees, etc. That can be a discussion for another day.
In the most recent developments, a couple of weeks ago the Israeli cabinet approved a new law requiring new non-Jewish citizens to take a loyalty oath to Israel as a “Jewish state.” The proposal was denounced by many Jewish and non-Jewish leaders around the world, some of whom described the measure as "fascist.”
Then yesterday, a group of rabbis from the city of Safed issued a letter urging Jews to refrain from renting apartments to Arabs. And today, Israeli newspapers reported that a leading Israeli rabbi, Ovadia Yosef, gave a sermon on Saturday in which he stated that God created non-Jews only to serve Jews.
It is important that we as Americans challenge such practices because the whole world sees our country as the sponsor and strongest unconditional defender of Israel and its policies. Israel's immoral practices taint the credibility and image of our country and serve to fuel anti-American sentiment among the world's populations. As a country and people that repeatedly struggled and fought to end slavery, racism, bigotry, and apartheid at home and abroad, we have an important role to play in pressuring Israel to end such practices.
Let me be clear: no one should ever blame Jews or Judaism for the outrageous Israeli practices, even as Israel falsely claims to be THE "Jewish" state.
The American Jewish community, as a leading community in the struggle against discrimination and bigotry in America, is in a unique position to expose Israel's shameful attempts to justify its war crimes and racist actions falsely in the name of Judaism.
There are many Jewish people who challenge Israel’s bigotry, and I applaud the heroic rabbis and activists who never remained silent in face of Israel's brutality and racism.
Unfortunately, in our country there are still some who prefer to engage in Muslim bashing rather than on securing equal rights and equal treatment for all. The ADL, once a leader in defending civil rights, seems recently to have changed its mission to becoming the lead advocate for the Israeli right-wing government. I pray that the ADL will now take a break from its efforts to advocate restrictions on the rights of Muslims to worship freely in America and direct some of its resources toward promoting peace, justice and harmony in Israel and the world.
For the sake of America, for the sake of peace and justice in the Holy Land, and for the sake of good and harmonious relations between Muslims and Jews, the ADL needs to stop attacking Islam and Muslims and instead start challenging the racism of Israel.
American Jews and American Muslims can and must continue to work together to challenge anti-Semitism, Islamophobia, and all forms of injustices perpetrated by those who claim to follow our respective religions. Both communities must join hands to show our children a brighter future in the Holy Land - a future that is built on justice, mutual respect, equality, and peace for all people.